By STEVE KRAH
The Bulldogs have some â€œsweet ringsâ€ coming to them.
Thatâ€™s what fourth-year Brownsburg High School head wrestling coach Darrick Snyder said as his squad was wrapping up an IHSAA team state championship.
Led by three juniors â€œunder the lights,â€ the Bulldogs won it all on the IHSAA side for the first time Saturday, Feb. 18 â€” after taking a second straight Class 3A Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association State Duals crown Dec. 23.
Brownsburg racked up 100 points and outdistancing runner-up Chesterton (80). A two-day record crowd of 33,844 packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
Brayton Lee (50-0 at 145 pounds) rolled to the title in his weight class while Ty Mills (37-3 at 120) and Blake Mulkey (38-2 at 126) were runners-up for Brownsburg, which came into the meet ranked No. 1 as a team. Lee, Mills and Mulkey were all top-ranked as individuals.
â€œHeâ€™s at a different level,â€ Snyder said of Lee, who moved to 130-1 in his prep career with two state titles (he reigned at 138 in 2016). â€œI think heâ€™s going to wrestle big time (NCAA) D-I and thereâ€™s a very good chance heâ€™ll be wrestling for a career after that. Heâ€™s that special.
â€œHe enjoys every second of being out there and the competition part of it. Itâ€™s an absolute joy to be his coach.â€
In the finals, Lee bested Munster senior Jason Crary by a 14-6 major decision, taking him down seven times and cutting him six.
â€œI felt like that was my best opportunity to get the match rolling,â€ Lee said. â€œScoring on my feet, thatâ€™s where Iâ€™m always comfortable.â€
Lee expressed his gratitude for others who got him to where he is in the mat world.
â€œItâ€™s a ton of coaches, my long-time club coach Chad Red, my high school coach, God, everybody,â€ Lee said. â€œThereâ€™s just so much support.â€
Lee, who is also a three-time second and Hendricks County tournament champion and two-time regional and semistate winner as well as an All-American at the national level, describes what itâ€™s like inside the Brownsburg practice room.
â€œWe have fun, but itâ€™s very competitive because we have so many good partners,â€ Lee said. â€œMy teammates are crazy. They really stepped it up. Our guys wrestled amazing. Itâ€™s just a great family and we have a great time together.
â€œSnyder is the biggest part. When he came to Brownsburg, he made us great. Heâ€™s the best.â€
A late takedown by Columbus East sophomore Cayden Rooks gave him a 5-4 finals win against Mills. The Brownsburg grappler took Rooks down midway through first period and led 2-0.
Mills blocked reversal attempt near end of the first period and took a 2-0 lead into the second.
Rooks escaped near the start of the second period to cut the lead to 2-1 and that was the score heading to the third period. Rooks yielded an escape to open the third period to make it 3-1.
A Rooks takedown 30 seconds into the period knotted the score a 3-all. Mills went up 4-3 with an escape.
â€œHard work and determination, thatâ€™s how anybody gets here,â€ Mills said. â€œIâ€™ve been staying focused, getting it done in the classroom and on the mat. I always have a thought about my last loss and it pushes me to go hard and be stronger.
â€œI just stayed focus and do whatever Snyder tells me to do and donâ€™t have a smile on my face. We get it done at Brownsburg. Nobody practices as hard as us. Itâ€™s an exciting atmosphere in that room.â€
Mills now has two state runners-up (106 in 2015 and 120 in 2017) and a third-place finish (106 in 2016) to his credit as well as three regional, two sectional, two conference and one county tournament title to his credit.
He said the Bulldogs are all focused on one goal.
â€œWe always break at practice on â€™State Champs!,â€ Mills said. â€œThe team got it done in individual and Team State (in December in Fort Wayne) this year. Nothing can stop us. Nothing should decide that besides our selves.â€
Mulkey, who also wrestled at 132 this season and tends to spar with bigger teammates, also talked about the workouts that again made Brownsburg top dogs in Indiana wrestling.
â€œWe have fun sometimes,â€ Mulkey said. â€œWe plays games at the end and before practice. From 3:20 to 5:20, itâ€™s hard work. Itâ€™s all business.
â€œWe definitely push each other in practice. It gets a little feisty sometimes. But we love each other as a team. We just battle each other and make each other better everyday.â€
Mulkey quickly went up 2-0 in the finals against New Palestine senior Alec White before being pinned in 3:32.
A year ago, Mulkey placed third at 120. He is a three-time conference and county tournament champion and two-time winner and the sectional and regional level.
Five other Bulldogs â€” seniors Rickie Clark (fourth at 285), Isaac McCormick (seventh at 220) and Anthony Cicciciarelli (lost in the first round at 170), junior Nathan Walton (third at 182) and freshman Drake Campbell (fifth at 106) â€” were at the State Finals
There will be a celebration in Brownsburg. Then itâ€™s back to work.
â€œItâ€™s exciting,â€ Snyder said. â€œWe return 10 starters and three guys who where under the lights. They get tomorrow and Monday off and we have open room on Tuesday to start our off-season.â€