By JEREMY HINES
Frankton wrestling coach Courtney Duncan walked in on the first day of practice carrying something a little bit unusual. The Frankton wrestling coach wasn’t holding a whistle, or uniforms. He was holding index cards. He passed one out to each kid in the room and told them to write down why they came out for wrestling.
When Duncan read the answers, he knew he had a pretty special team.
“Almost every kid put that they wrestle because it builds family and relationships,” Duncan said. “I didn’t have the kids put their names on the card, but that told me right then and there that they get it. It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about trusting each other and being loyal to each other.”
Frankton, a small school of 480 students just north of Anderson, had one of the best Class A teams in the state last year. Coach Duncan really thought that they could have fared well at the team state tournament, but they did not get an invite. This year, that has changed. Frankton will be one of the teams competing for the Class A title.
“We are really excited about team state,” Duncan said. “This is where we wanted to get as a team. We thought we had a chance last year, but this year we’re going in hoping to prove we belong. We have more kids out than we’ve probably ever had. The kids are excited and they all really look forward to the tournament.”
One of Frankton’s hammers is junior 170 pounder Cody Klettheimer. Last season Klettheimer was one of two Frankton grapplers to advance to the individual state tournament.
“We are looking forward to team state,” Klettheimer said. “Our goal is to win it. But we also think we can win our sectional, regional and maybe even our semistate.”
That isn’t out of the realm of possibilities for Frankton. The team has four returning wrestlers who advanced to at least the ticket round of semistate last year. Klettheimer and senior David Delph advanced to state. Senior Dru Berkebile lost in the ticket round at semistate as did junior Cole Baker.
The Eagles have other wrestlers, like senior Grant Geisinger, that are hoping to do well in the tourney this year. Geisinger lost to Cathedral’s Elliott Rodgers on a last second takedown in the opening round of regional. Rodgers went on to place fourth in state.
“Grant has really developed,” Duncan said. “He has had a taste of success now, and he’s ready to make a run.”
Frankton has the luxury of depth this year, something the school hasn’t really ever had before. There were over 30 kids go out for the team.
“I have options this year,” Duncan said. “We are able to move kids around. We are able to make strategic lineup decisions. We have backups at just about every spot in our lineup.”
Another major team strength is the bond the wrestlers have.
“We all love being around each other,” Klettheimer said. “We know what we want to get to, and we push each other to the limit in the room. Even drilling we are starting to go 100 percent on everything. And, when we’re not wrestling, we are all hanging out together. We’ve became very close.”
Frankton has improved its strength of schedule over the last several years, hoping it will create better wresters.
“Our kids believe,” Duncan said. “They believe in each other, and they believe in themselves. We have a tough schedule, but it doesn’t matter what size school you come from, you still put your wrestling shoes on the same way. We are realizing by facing these larger, stronger schools, we can compete with anyone.”
Klettheimer said the team’s motto is “Take No Prisoners.” The Eagles are good, and they want to prove it. Team state can’t come fast enough for this tight knit group.
“We’re ready to see what we can accomplish,” Duncan said. “I think we can do something pretty special.”
Edited by Y2CJ41