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2022 Ironman Interviews
Talking with Brownsburg and Crown Point coaches and wrestlers
2023 IHSAA State Finals Schedule
Friday, Feb. 17, 2023
Gates open at 12:30 pm ET
Parade of Champions at 1:30 pm ET
First Round Weight Classes 106 - 145 begin at 2 pm ET
First Round Weight Classes 152 - 285 begin at 5:30 pm ET
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023
Gates open at 8 am ET
Quarterfinals begin at 9 am ET with Semifinals to follow
Fieldhouse cleared of all spectators following Semifinals
Gates open at 3:30 pm ET
Consolations at 4:30 pm ET with State Championships to follow at 7:30 pm ET
Bulldog Breakdown: Brownsburg’s December Gauntlet Continues Following Walsh Ironman
By Anna Kayser
Following a weekend at one of the most difficult high school wrestling tournaments in the nation, the consensus among Brownsburg’s wrestling staff and athletes is likely what one would expect: That was one tough tournament, but the lessons taken from it and how individuals move forward will prepare them for their biggest test come February.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs saw their two bookends each place at the Walsh Ironman Invitational in Ohio, representing Indiana along with Crown Point as the first teams from Indiana to compete in the gauntlet. With three losses each, 106-pound Revin Dickman (8th) and heavyweight Leighton Jones (6th) took to the podium in success stories of one weekend of incredible wrestling.
“It was impressive, very humbling throughout most of the tournament,” Brownsburg head coach Darrick Snyder said. “The competition is incredible; I’ve never been in a tournament where I’ve seen so many guys knock off nationally ranked dudes and then the next round they’re getting knocked off. These dudes are big. It was incredible competition and definitely made us question some of the things we’re doing and what we need to do right. It was a fun tournament, just incredible wrestling.”
Along with Dickman and Jones, wrestlers from Brownsburg to make the trip included Preston Haines (113), Jake Hockaday (120), Brady Ison (132), Parker Reynolds (138), Caden Brewer (175) and Gunner Henry (190).
And when they say the tournament is tough – they mean it. Among the second-ranked team in 4A, Jones (No. 5 seed) was the lone wrestler with a single-digit seed in Ironman, with only Preston Haines (10) joining him in the top 10.
“The competition is super, super tough, a bunch of ranked kids,” Dickman said. “Coming into this I was kind of nervous with how I was going to do and stuff, and I feel like I competed pretty well.”
Following a technical fall and pin in his first two consolation matches after being booted from the championship bracket by No. 2 seed Ayden Smith from Notre Dame, Pa., the No. 14-seeded Dickman slotted himself into a placement with a 1-0 win over Stillwater, Okla.’s Ayden Thomas.
For Dickman – and all the representatives from Brownsburg and Crown Point – competing at the Ironman was a chance to not only level up individually, but to showcase what programs from Indiana are capable of.
“It just put Indiana wrestling on the map,” Dickman said. “We’re not really looked at for wrestling, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Dickman, Haines, Hockaday, Ison, Henry and Jones all won their first matches on the day, with Jones pinning his first opponent in less than one minute.
For Jones, this tournament is a good measuring stick to how he is able to compete at this point in the season. Due to his football schedule and opponents not being prepared to wrestle him in the opening weeks of the season, it’s been a slow start to the 2022-23 season for Brownsburg’s heavyweight.
“My goal right now is just to get more in shape. I think I had five matches and less than 20 practices [coming into this weekend], which wasn’t ideal. I just want to get in shape and get a lot better, win Brecksville, win team state and everything in between.”
Jones’ largest match of the weekend – not seeding-wise, but in terms of what lies ahead for the heavyweight and Brownsburg – came for a bid to the consolation semifinals. In a battle of Indiana heavyweights, Jones defeated Crown Point’s Paul Clark by a 5-1 decision. It was his third full-length match of the tournament after winning by two sub-minute puns and a medical forfeit.
“It went really well. I came in with expectations just to get better and then I ended up placing,” Jones said. “It’s obviously a pretty prestigious tournament, I came in here and wanted to place and I’m pretty happy with that, even though I took three losses.”
A pair of Jones’ losses came against Richard Thomas, the No. 12 heavyweight seed from Oklahoma. After earning a 6-3 decision to bump Jones to the consolation bracket, Thomas turned Jones for a first-period fall in his final match of the tournament.
So far this season, Brownsburg has run through its opponents with very few wounds suffered by some of its best wrestlers. If anything, the Ironman gave a chance for those wrestlers to measure up to some of the best in the country and learn how to get better and move forward from losses.
“[A tournament like this] gives you some things to work on,” Snyder said. “We know our guys are battle tested and are going to continue to be, but we also have to make sure they don’t get down on themselves. Some of these guys are not used to going to a tournament and not placing and being done a few hours into it.”
And for Jones specifically, being able to test his endurance was important as Brownsburg gets into some of its biggest competition this year.
“It’ll benefit me probably for the rest of my life,” Jones said. “Most of the dual tournaments we go to, people forfeit against me which is kind of annoying. I came into this tournament with five matches, none of them going past a minute. It was definitely a difference.”
Shining the spotlight on athletes this early in the season has indications for where they’ll be come February and the state series. Snyder has built Brownsburg’s schedule with that in mind – to get better, each and every day, working toward their end goals this season.
This upcoming weekend, the Bulldogs travel to the Crown Point Invitational to continue a month of hard-fought wrestling and impressive competition. To round out the 2022 calendar just before New Years, another big tournament across state lines.
“If you look at our next month, next week we go to Crown Point and there’s nine nationally ranked teams there, then we go to Brecksville and I think that’s got 40-some teams, multiple nationally ranked teams,” Snyder said. “We hope after that month of a gauntlet that it’s going to help us make a run during the postseason, but we’ve got a lot of guys taking a lot of losses.”
Bulldog Breakdown: IHSWCA Dual State on Deck for Tough Bulldog Squad
By Anna Kayser
After a month of individual focus for the Brownsburg wrestling team with the Walsh Ironman, Carnahan and Brecksville-Broadview Heights Invitationals alongside few one-on-one duals in December, the team focus returns on Saturday as the Bulldogs look for their first IHSWCA Dual State championship since 2019.
“This weekend isn’t the official IHSAA state champions, but to me whatever team wins dual state any year, that’s the best team,” head coach Darrick Snyder said. “I love it when you go into it and the best kid on your team is just as important as the least talented kid on your team.”
Over the past month, the Bulldogs have taken strides from top to bottom in individual performance to prepare them for the switch to a team mentality and having a strong lineup through all weight classes.
At the Ironman Invitational from Dec. 9-10, Revin Dickman (106) and Leighton Jones (HWT) each earned a spot on the podium to in one of the toughest high school tournaments in the country, leading the Bulldogs to place 20th out of 119 teams. One week later, they finished in third place of the Carnahan Invitational at Crown Point with Gunnar Henry (195) winning his bracket and three others reaching the finals.
To round out December, seven Bulldogs took to the podium on another tough stage, with Brady Ison (132) being crowned as a champion of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Invitational and Dickman and Jones following in second place of their respective weight classes.
And in the middle of the gauntlet of tough, nationally ranked competition have been practices mapped around these wrestlers peaking at the right time and keeping their bodies fresh for a run at the postseason. Dual meets have gone by the wayside, with Brownsburg’s last dual coming exactly one month ago on Dec. 6 vs. Avon.
“Our schedule is so much different with being able to go to Ironman and Brecksville… we’re just doing a lot of individual tournaments,” Snyder said. “Which, I think if we’re trying to get our guys national exposure and knock off some nationally ranked guys, that’s probably the best route.”
That improvement during the season – and even the strides they make in the summer and in the school months leading up to wrestling season – ultimately strengthens the program to a point where they are in the running for state titles in any arena.
Now that they’ve faced some of the toughest competition in the country, both the mental and physical aspects of wrestling have been strengthened to set up Brownsburg for a run this weekend and in February.
“I always tell the guys to get as good as you can and keep improving, and that helps the team,” Snyder said. “Whether it’s in a dual meet or it’s at individual state, if you get to a point where you can compete for [an individual] state title in Indiana, you’re going to help us win an Indiana [team] state title and you’re certainly going to help us in a dual meet. We just focus on them continuing to improve.”
The team mentality comes into play when looking at the scoreboard and the overall team race in an event like this weekend, and that’s the biggest difference between wrestling for an individual title and taking the mat in a dual meet.
There’s also the ability to pick each other up following individual losses, scoring bonus points to offset opponents’ points on the scoreboard.
“I think our guys are very unselfish and that’s something I think we’ve kind of created within our culture,” Snyder said. “Our guys know that if they’re the clear-cut better wrestler, they can’t go out and win 5-4, they’ve got to score bonus points. They don’t always do it, but that’s their goal. And our guys that are kind of getting beat up on and falling behind, they know they have to fight off their back and survive because it’s all about the team.
“There are some rounds where my best kids walk out and I’m like ‘Get me bonus’ and they’re like, ‘Got you, coach.’”
The 4A bracket of the IHSWCA State Duals tournament will take place on Brownsburg’s home turf as they look to battle through a bracket of strong competition.
As the No. 2 seed, the Bulldogs open with No. 7 Indianapolis Cathedral and will have to get through either No. 3 Center Grove – a tough opponent to battle in half of the bracket – or No. 6 Evansville Mater Dei. On the other side of the bracket awaits No. 1 Crown Point, which won the tournament in 2022.
“I’m excited to compete as a team with everybody right there,” Snyder said. “I know our guys are too, we’ve had a great week of practice. We don’t need to say anything, do anything – we talk about winning dual state and IHSAA state, and they were locked in on Monday. They’re ready to roll.”
Bulldog Breakdown: Rout vs. Avon Rolls Brownsburg Into Ironman
By Anna Kayser
As the rumble of the crowd simmered following a palm to the mat in favor of acting 126-pounder Jake Hockaday on Tuesday night, the usual boom of speakers announcing 132-pound No. 4 Brady Ison took the tone of another.
With nine points already on the board in favor of those joining him in the purple and white singlets, the smoke cleared to reveal freshman Tommy Gibbs – winner of Brownsburg’s coveted “pin chain” following last week’s dual vs. Westfield as he boasted the second of three consecutive falls by the Bulldog lineup.
“It was a big confidence booster,” Gibbs said of his season-opening win by fall. “I thought I was going to win, but I didn’t think I was going to win that fast and make a statement.”
Facing Avon’s No. 11 Seth Syra, Gibbs’ confidence rolled him to a 6-1 win via decision.
“Tommy’s a coach’s dream, he just does everything right – in the hallways, in the classroom, and then in his approach,” head coach Darrick Snyder said. “He doesn’t care about rankings… or anything like that. He’s just trained so hard that he can wrestle the entire match and he feels even better in the third period than he does in the first.”
Behind Gibbs’ standout win, a gritty 3-1 decision by No. 2 Revin Dickman over No. 4 Nathan Rioux and five pins, the Bulldogs clinched their seventh consecutive victory over the Orioles, 62-3, continuing the tone they have set and elevated to a now 7-0 record through the first week of official competition.
Dickman’s 3-1 decision put an exclamation point on a strong dual performance in which Brownsburg took 13 of 14 bouts for their second-largest victory over Avon since Snyder’s coaching career with the Bulldogs began, second only to last season’s 65-3 win. Since losing to Avon, 28-26, in Snyder’s first year as a coach, the Bulldogs have outscored the Orioles in regular-season duals, 326-91.
“They’ve wrestled 100 times and they’re both really talented,” Snyder said. “Revin’s always been able to kind of gain the advantage – he did get away from Revin, and not many people can get away from him so I know that bothered him.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, I think we’re going to see that match several more times throughout the year.”
Brownsburg’s lone loss on the evening came from the weightiest battle of the dual at 138 pounds, featuring No. 4 Parker Reynolds against No. 3 Cheany Schoeff, freshman against a senior.
Reynolds kept his pace with Schoeff, dropping the match by a 5-2 decision.
“We told him, he’s going to come out and bully you,” Snyder said. “Parker gave up that early takedown and then did a nice job battling for positions. I liked how he responded – that kid’s going to get some more mat time in high school varsity matches so we’re going to try to correct some things, but I liked his energy and effort.”
Rolling through the dual with falls were Hockaday, 145-pound Mason Day, 170-pound Tyler Jones, 182-pound Caden Brewer and 113-pound Kye Callahan. The Bulldogs put up bonus points in nine total matches, including a forfeit at heavyweight against Leighton Jones.
This weekend, eight representatives from Brownsburg’s lineup will take on arguably their biggest competition this season at the nationally recognized Ironman Invitational in Ohio. With representatives joining the gauntlet from across state lines, the highly-ranked Bulldogs are set to battle some of the best high school wrestlers in the nation.
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Bulldog Breakdown: Key Pieces Help Elevate Brownsburg Wrestling Under Snyder
By Anna Kayser
If you’ve been an unfamiliar passerby in the town of Brownsburg, Ind. over the past seven years, one of the first things that might catch your eye are the purple street signs – deep purple markers adorned with a bulldog, two on each corner if you’re lucky.
At least, that’s what I noticed as I drove through the small – but not too small – suburb of Indianapolis en route to the fourth official practice of the 2022-23 IHSAA wrestling season, with no prior knowledge other than what was scribbled on the notepad next to me.
One thing I hadn’t taken note of prior to passing the “Welcome to Brownsburg” sign on Highway 139, and something that might give any other small-town Midwesterner the same familiar wave of recognition: The residents of this town about 30 minutes northwest of downtown Indy live and breathe Brownsburg High School athletics.
The 2021-22 Brownsburg wrestling team was nothing to snub at. The Bulldogs went 18-1 in duals and extended their program-record streak to eight consecutive Hoosier Crossroads Conference championships. Jake Hockaday led the lineup with the first state title by a freshman in school history, continuing Brownsburg’s reign of crowning one champion each year since 2016. More on him later – I promise.
But that was last year, and while the result is indicative of the journey to get to where they are now, it’s not the full story. What better place to begin than at the beginning – when the Bulldog wrestling program transitioned from a bottom-of-the-barrel finish to an HCC Championship in two years, to an IHSAA State Championship in four.
“Regardless of what it is, I have high expectations,” Brownsburg Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Jim Snapp said. “My experience has been if you want to have a state contending team, you [hire a coach] who has done it before.”
After beginning his head coaching career at Mishawaka High School – a time in which he led the program to three consecutive top-two finishes and a pair of championships in 2008 and 2010 – Darrick Snyder found himself as the subject of a coaching inquiry almost 150 miles dead south of the place where he was a Northern Indiana Conference champion and state place winner.
From Snyder’s point of view, there were a number of perks to coming to Brownsburg. And when his wife asked him about the wrestling team’s recent lack of success, he saw the potential to upgrade the team to something special.
“Yeah – but there’s no reason [for that lack of success],” he said. “All the pieces are there.”
Immediately, things began to shift. During Snyder’s first two seasons, the Bulldog program went 36-12 in duals and was crowned 2015 HCC Champions. Of course, that success comes not entirely from the corner but from the center of the mat itself – it’s a combination of what happens behind the scenes and the performances under the spotlight.
That first piece of the puzzle, the one that is encapsulated in the public eye each time the mats are rolled out: The athletes.
The success of that 2015 team was boasted by a pair of wrestlers that took center stage on the IHSAA State podium come February – Ty Mills (106), Brownsburg’s first finalist since Mark Meunier’s title in 1977, and Nathan Walton (170). As four-year place winners at the state tournament, they were two of four key athletes named by Snapp as being difference-makers in raising the heights of the program.
None was more instrumental under Snyder’s tutelage, however, than All-American and two-time NCAA Division I Championships qualifier Brayton Lee, Minnesota’s current starting 157-pounder. A leader that, without Snyder’s drive to create a pipeline from younger levels into a high school program the town could be proud of, might never have donned the purple Bulldog in the first place.
“[My family] knew that [Snyder] was a good coach and had a lot of success, but we weren’t that familiar with him,” Lee said. “We went to Brownsburg for a high school tournament to meet up with him when I was in middle school, and we just talked. He was just supportive and said that he would help me to become the best wrestler I can possibly be. We were really excited about Snyder, he pretty much sold us [on where the Brownsburg program would go].”
Not only is building the high school program a key part in escalating success, but also what feeds into it. The implementation and management of a strong program for middle school students ensures that development and love for the sport occurs at a younger age.
“We were fortunate enough to get some kids [like Lee] that came here because of him, and he’s worked on [building up] the middle school program – kids want to come here, kids want to stay here,” Snapp said. So, we’ve got this interaction of developing the feeder program and kids that, if they’re going to wrestle in the Indianapolis area, they [want] to come to Brownsburg.”
With two established wrestling academies nearby – Contender’s Wrestling Academy in Brownsburg and Red Cobra Wrestling in Avon – growth through both the school program and external coaching elevates athletes even higher.
Lee, a product of Red Cobra, was a good example of how development can skyrocket through that extra effort and help outside of a school program. What the Bulldogs standout star lacked early on, however, was the team aspect.
“It was definitely different, just because I had never been on a team before – I had just wrestled on my own,” Lee said. “I had grown up going to our very intense wrestling club and on both sides, practices were tough. I appreciated and respected that. [Snyder] was always making us do lots of tough stuff intertwined with wrestling.”
Prior to Lee’s first of three IHSAA state titles in 2016 – a year in which he, along with five other state placers, led the charge on Brownsburg’s IHSWCA Dual State championship and IHSAA state runner-up finishes – the Bulldogs had only crowned two individual champions in school history.
“We were always focused on the next day,” Lee said. “The first time I won, it was awesome, and I was grateful for it – but there was always a team aspect. I wanted to win with our team, and that idea of winning definitely pushed us. I think me winning helped bring other guys along. Knowing I was kind of a leader, knowing that my success was inspiring other guys on the Brownsburg wrestling team made me want to keep pushing.”
For Lee’s career specifically, the results of the drive to win as a team came quickly. His second title at 145 pounds saw seven Bulldogs on the IHSAA podium and a franchise-high three finalists – Mills and Blake Mulkey included as runners-up – to lead Brownsburg to its first IHSAA state championship in school history.
That influx of high-performing athletes jumpstarted Brownsburg’s rise to the top of high school wrestling in central Indiana.
“You put those kids together – we had a core of four, good kids – and Darrick coached up other kids around them,” Snapp said. “That started [a stretch] of us winning the conference every year for the last eight years, we’re in the strongest athletic conference in the state of Indiana. Our wrestling team has dominated. It hasn’t even been close.”
The second piece to the puzzle, where Snapp, the administration and coaching staff as a whole come into play, is the support Snyder continues to have behind him.
The best example? The wrestling room at Brownsburg High School, built during Snyder’s reign as head coach and designed by Snapp to help raise the standard of the program and accommodate the growing numbers of the extracurricular.
“I knew I was going to have [Snapp’s] support on just simple things,” Snyder said. “My first year here, I wanted to take a fan bus to individual state… and I was told no [by the athletic director]. I said, ‘This is a really important to the program. These guys need to watch this event, it’s incredible.’
“I called Jim, and every year [since], just like most teams, we get to take a team bus to state.”
The backing from Snapp and the administration is a means to an end in shifting the culture not just in the Brownsburg wrestling room, but in the town that loves its high school athletics.
“That first year, there wasn’t really anyone there for the kid that was wrestling [at state]. When you win, you want to look up and see a bunch of purple and sit with those people between rounds,” Snyder said. “We’ve really tried to change that around, anything like that.”
It also extends to the actual competition and helping those wrestlers reach the mats at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
In order to develop the athletes coming to Brownsburg or growing through school programs the Bulldogs support, the level of competition needed to continuously be raised.
“When I first got here, no program did any overnights or anything out of state,” Snyder said. “I went to [the athletic director] and told [them], ‘I’ve got to get out of Indianapolis’ – I was tired of wrestling the same teams over and over again, and then we got to the point that there weren’t many teams in our area that would be competitive.”
This upcoming season, the Bulldogs’ schedule includes the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Wrestling Tournament from and the Crown Point Invitational – Crown Point defeated Brownsburg 178-105 in the 2022 finals, setting an IHSAA record for the largest margin of victory by a team champion by over 20 points – on back-to-back weekends in December.
That elevation in competition level allows wrestlers to face some of their biggest challenges early and prepares them for high-pressure situations come February.
“I always tell [our guys] that our schedule is not meant for them to go undefeated,” Snyder said. “If you do, that’s great, but we’ve set up a schedule where we’re going to take some losses. That took administrative support to be willing to allow us to do overnights, to allow us to go out of state.”
Pushing athletes beyond their comfort zone to prepare them for future career hurdles is a common theme in Snyder’s coaching style, something that is on record in helping wrestlers reach their full potential.
And, well, maybe no one can attest to that better than a Big Ten starter.
“I think just his competitiveness and him pushing us every day helped me,” Lee said. “He helped push me past my comfort zone a little but more than maybe I would myself, and that’s really the main purpose of a coach. Snyder knew I wanted to be great, and he helped me move into a little bit more uncomfortable territories which is important for any athlete, especially when you’re trying to go to the next level.”
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Bulldog Breakdown: The Football Player, Part 2
By Anna Kayser
If you’re on the outside looking in as Brownsburg wrestling approaches the 2023 State Series, you may not know or see that there is a lot different about Leighton Jones now compared to last season.
For one, his bathroom mirror is covered in words written in dry erase marker.
To explain how Leighton has grown into who he is today, we have to go through what happened in the IHSAA State Championships last year.
As the No. 1 ranked heavyweight in the state, Leighton was the odds-on favorite to win the championship after losing his ticket round match during his freshman year and placing third at state as a sophomore. However, the viewpoint was a lot sunnier from the outside looking in on a kid who had high prospects for his future and a solid season on the purple Brownsburg mat.
Internally, he was exhausted.
Following his official, game day visit to the University of Iowa in which they secured a statement win over Indiana University in early September 2021, nothing slowed down for Leighton. His recruitment was peaking, with multiple football and wrestling programs looking to woo him into a commitment.
However, the offers weren’t coming from football programs, not yet. Indiana had offered Leighton a full scholarship package to wrestle for the Hoosiers in Bloomington. So, he had options, but there was only one option that he was really looking for.
“In the back of his mind, he was still wanting football but knew that he was going to have more control over his own destiny with wrestling,” Marshall Jones, Leighton’s dad, said. “So that added much more pressure.”
Leighton’s quiet, describing himself ‘lead by example’ type of figure until his senior wrestling season when he really strived to fill the ‘senior heavyweight’ shoes and instill accountability in his teammates. So, when the stress started creeping up, it didn’t present itself until the toll became physical.
“[Leighton] internalizes a lot, doesn’t say too much, so we didn’t really see too much stress until a tournament up in Crown Point [in December],” Marshall said. “He was just so tentative, lost [by one point] and Leighton should have beaten him, probably should have majored him if nothing else. You could tell that he wasn’t wrestling like Chad [Red] had taught him to wrestle.”
The next weekend, he was beaten again – this time by a takedown with five seconds left in an overtime period.
“You could see in Leighton’s face, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this,’” Marshall recalled.
The pressure from both his sports colliding over the winter months was beating down on Leighton. His schedule was packed, moreso than any normal high school junior beginning the college search. It wasn’t just academics he was looking at; he was reaching for a place that would help him grow toward the next level of athletics. A place that would help him reach his goals of the NFL.
In the back of his mind, Leighton had already found the perfect spot: Iowa City. But without the offer on the table – without many offers on the table at all – he was still an overly active recruit.
“I would come home from wrestling, and I would eat and get on the phone with four different programs,” Leighton said. “By the time I got off the phone every night, it would be 10:30-11 [at night] and I would have to do the same thing over again the next night.”
Leighton was actively texting in the Jones family group chat almost every single day – someone called him, wanted to talk to him, or followed him on Twitter. It was constant.
He was being bombarded from all sides. Schools were calling about both wrestling and football, people around him were continuously reminding him of their expectation for an individual title in February, and his drive diminished with mounting stress placed on his shoulders.
“I just wasn’t having fun,” Leighton said. “I was kind of in my own head.”
In seeing all of the stress and anxiety bubble to the surface in a physical way, the Jones family sought help from a sports psychologist, recommended by a friend whose son was in a similar boat.
For six weeks through the end of the wrestling season, Leighton was taught coping skills to handle all the weight on his shoulders. He was also taught to narrow his focus in on what was right in front of him.
“Just that six-week period that we sought that professional help was huge,” Laurie said. “Leighton is a big picture kid – he would look at the big picture, he would look at the challenges ahead and he would kind of overwhelm himself. We got him seeing someone who had him focus, step-by-step, on what he needed to accomplish things and have that focus and mental strength to handle the stress.”
The family also allotted some down time, a window for Leighton to have no responsibility and hopefully avoid burnout. That free time came in the form of Sundays at home.
“We made sure he had time, especially on the weekends, just to have complete down time because if he didn’t, then he couldn’t have given too much more,” Laurie said. “Just giving him that amount of time that we had on those weekends, we tried not to talk about anything as far as any stress of any sports especially after he was done competing on Saturdays.
“On Sundays after his workout, he had very little responsibilities because we just wanted him to still be able to manage and be a kid.”
They also got Leighton back into the Red Cobra wrestling room, bringing him back to his wrestling roots with something Marshall felt like he was missing.
Leighton had the physical tools he needed to succeed on the mat, but the mentality of wrestling always dominates.
“It was just more of a mental thing of keeping his mind set and getting him to believe in what he’s capable of doing,” Red said. “Me personally, I thought he was a state champion his sophomore year, I thought he was capable of it his junior year and now we’re in his senior year. That’s our plan, that’s definitely his plan, and hopefully we’ll get that job done coming into February.”
Meanwhile, the Jones family watched as other recruits around the Midwest began to collect offers and commit to schools, creating their own timeline in their minds.
They were looking for the shoe to drop, that offer from the University of Iowa that would – finally – solidify Leighton’s future.
“That’s what [Leighton] really wanted,” Marshall said. “He fell in love with the campus the first time we stepped foot on it. Every place we went, he compared it back to Iowa.”
Come January, the official offers began to ramp up: Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, Illinois State, Toledo, Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Ball State, Bowling Green and Ohio.
He already knew where he wanted to go, but he was made to wait for it. Iowa was locked in on him – as was Purdue, which would officially offer him around the same time – but knew he had a state championship run to focus on during the time.
As the influx of offers came in, so did the high-pressure tournaments designed to award only the best-of-the-best with a bid to Gainbridge Fieldhouse in February.
For those around him, wrestling season was leading up to a hopeful heavyweight state title – again, he was ranked No. 1 in the state. For Leighton, it was a countdown.
“I came into state and was like, ‘Alright, I have four matches left.’ And after Friday night, I was like, ‘Alright, three matches left.’ And then it was semifinals, and I was like ‘Alright, two more matches and I’m done.’” Leighton said. “I just wanted to get it over with. I was confident, but I wasn’t having confident feelings just going into the whole thing.”
Leighton won his first two state matches by three and two-point decisions, respectively. He was then defeated in the semifinals by an 8-5 decision and dropped to the third-place match.
“I think he, just like all of us, was devastated. We felt like we were the best heavyweight, and it was hard to watch him lose because I know how bad he wants it,” Brownsburg head coach Darrick Snyder said. “Honestly, I just gave him a hug and we didn’t really immediately talk about it. There’s nothing to be said, especially the guys who have trained the right way and they really want to win it.”
He bounced back from the loss with a shutout of his next opponent for third place, 6-0, adapting his goals to accomplish what ended up being right in front of him.
With wrestling season in his peripheral mirror, the waves of relief came in a rush for Leighton.
“The coaches told him they did not want to offer him during wrestling season because they knew it was hard enough, and once Iowa offers an offensive lineman… that recruit just starts to blow up,” Marshall said. “They didn’t want to do that to him while he was still on the hunt for the state championship.”
On Monday morning, less than 48 hours after his junior wrestling season came to a close, Leighton got the call he had been waiting for from the George Barnett, the Hawkeyes’ offensive line coach, with one message: ‘Don’t forget why you liked Iowa.’
As promised, the programs started calling. The Jones family even had a visit set up to go visit Notre Dame, Leighton’s favorite school growing up.
Despite the increased attention and pressure to open his mind to somewhere other than Iowa, the answer didn’t change: Thanks, but Iowa’s the place.
“He was like, ‘I don’t want to go,’ and we were like ‘You don’t want to go to Notre Dame? You don’t just want to go see?’” Laurie said. His answer was the same, as his mom remembers it: “No, I don’t. I feel like I’m lying to these people pretending that I’m interested. I’m not interested.”
On Feb. 26, mere days after receiving his call from Iowa and tons other from programs now eyeing him, Leighton announced his commitment with a tweet saying, “Iowa City, I’m coming home.”
From the beginning, he knew that’s where he wanted to be. On Dec. 21 when he signed his national letter of intent, he officially became a Hawkeye.
“Every place we visited just never quite checked all the boxes like Iowa did,” Laurie said. “It’s got this feel that makes you want to go back.”
It goes back to the list of accomplished Iowa football players who wrestled in high school, too. Iowa has a strong resume of building former wrestlers into forces to be reckoned with on the offensive line and seeing the success of Hawkeyes in the NFL was a sticking point for the Brownsburg heavyweight.
“I’ve always wanted to play in the NFL – that’s always been there,” Leighton said. “And then when I got offered to Iowa, I was like ‘Alright, I can make this happen. If it’s anywhere, it’s here. Right when I committed, I realized I could be something special, and they told me that too.”
Now, that eight-, nine-year old kid who Chad Red called “NFL” has a real shot at continuing to make his dreams come true – as long as he doesn’t look too far ahead of where his feet lie.
Although Leighton is now removed from regularly seeing a sports psychologist, he still puts into practice coping mechanisms to keep his stress and anxiety at a low level. The things that stuck with him will also take him through to his first year as a student-athlete at Iowa.
One of the biggest things he learned is to write all his goals on his bathroom mirror, so he has a visual each day of what is in front of him and can see all that he’s accomplishing each day.
“Once he started to focus on the small things, it was so much better,” Laurie said. “That’s going to be a tool he’s absolutely going to have to use next year and we see him still using it now. I mean, his bathroom mirror is all covered up and written on with everything he wants to accomplish this year in wrestling.”
It’s not uncommon for football players to forgo their second semester senior year to join their college programs for spring practice. That wasn’t an option on the table for Leighton, and the Iowa coaches wanted to see him accomplish his goals on the wrestling mat.
“There are a lot of kids that wouldn’t be wrestling right now – he’s on a full ride to go play football at Iowa,” Snyder said. “It would have been real easy for him to say, ‘I’m going to Iowa,’ but he wants to help us win and wants to try to win a state title.”
So, that’s where he’s headed. He’s received his meal plan and workout program in the mail from Iowa, but the first step is to tackle what awaits him at sectionals, regionals and then state at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“I can definitely tell I’m embracing it this year, my last season,” Leighton said. “I’ve put in so much work since third grade to get to this point, and I just want to finish it out on the right note.”
Bulldog Breakdown: IHSWCA Championships Winds Into Final Stretch of Season
By Anna Kayser
On Saturday in Brownsburg, fans from the top two wrestling teams in 4A – and arguably the entire state of Indiana – took to the Bulldog gym for what is likely a preview of the 2023 IHSAA State Championship race on the horizon.
After making it’s way through a tough slate of opponents in Indianapolis Cathedral and Center Grove, Brownsburg clawed it’s way back from a deep and early deficit against No. 1 ranked Crown Point but ultimately fell short in the IHSWCA Dual State championships, losing 39-24.
“Crown Point’s really good, and we knew they were really good,” head coach Darrick Snyder said. “Our guys fought and battled hard, they have a handful of guys paired up with some of our guys that aren’t quite at that level yet, so we knew they’d score bonus in those.”
Crown Point jumped out to a commanding 20-0 lead after the first four bouts, sweeping Brownsburg’s 170-220 weights in style with two pins and a technical fall.
Brownsburg then countered in dominant fashion, taking each of the next four and six of the next seven to tighten the deficit to just one point (25-24). After heavyweight Leighton Jones put the purple Bulldogs on the board, Revin Dickman (106) followed with a third-period fall and off they went. Jake Hockaday’s technical fall at 120 and Brady Ison’s major decision at 132 tallied bonus points for the team.
“I thought our guys did everything they could to win, Crown Point’s just a better team right now,” Snyder said. “I thought we battled well, I was proud of the effort but never happy getting second place. Just have to refocus, we have conference coming up and then the tournament series so we’ll get back to work.”
Dickman, Hockaday and Ison all went 3-0 for Brownsburg on Saturday, with Parker Reynolds going 2-0 over the final two duals.
“You know who’s really clicking for us right now is Brady Ison,” Snyder said. “We went up to Ironman and he went 1-2, and I don’t remember the last time he didn’t place at a tournament, he’s been wrestling his whole life. I told the guys that when you start taking those losses, there’s two roads – you’re either going to go down the road to get better and fix things, or you’re just going to be happy losing.
“[Ison] went up to Brecksville and won it, and he looked lights out today.”
With a four-point lead entering the final two matches of a long day of wrestling, Crown Point clinched it’s second consecutive IHSWCA Dual State title with a technical fall to put the red Bulldog out of reach in the final bout.
The tournament kicks off a season-ending stretch of strong Indiana-based competition for the purple Bulldogs, culminating in the IHSAA State Championships at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in February. On Jan. 14, they again take to the Brownsburg gymnasium for the HCC Championships. Two weeks later, the state series begins.
In December, the focus shifted into getting some wrestlers national recognition by battling some of the toughest competition across state lines. Now, they’re looking for that hard work to pay off with a strong performance in the state series.
“Take a kid like Preston Haines, who in Ohio lost some really tough, close matches at Brecksville then lost a close one in overtime in the semis,” Snyder said. “He’s been in that situation 10 times this year, and this was the first time he didn’t get down on himself.
“You see guys breathing heavy and a lot of times it’s just anxiety and nerves because the match isn’t going their way. He was calm and collected the entire time, and we’re starting to see more of our guys do that because they’ve been in all of these tough matches.”
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Bulldog Breakdown: The Football Player, Part 1
By Anna Kayser
At the beginning of his recruitment process with the Iowa Hawkeye football program, Leighton Jones was handed a piece of paper.
“There were about 15 or 16 wrestlers who have made All-Big Ten [on that paper]. All-Big Ten isn’t easy at all to do,” Leighton said. “It wasn’t just all the guys that wrestled, it was all the guys that placed or were state champs.”
On Wednesday, Dec. 21, the rest became history.
Leighton’s career has been building toward the opportunity to add his name to the list of Iowa football players with wrestling in their blood. Both sports went hand-in-hand from the very beginning, and together helped his skills grow to the level of a future Division I football player.
Picture him at four-years-old – something that’s a far cry from the current 6-foot-4, 275-pound offensive lineman who sports a Brownsburg singlet from November to February. That age is really where this story begins, when he was handed a mini jersey and set of waist flags for an upcoming fall season of flag football.
Even at that age, a competitive nature snuck through his quiet persona. Football season then transitioned into wrestling season – as it would for the next 14 years of his life – and Leighton took his first steps onto a mat as part of Brownsburg’s youth wrestling club.
“A lot of people were scratching their heads and calling me silly,” Leighton’s dad, Marshall Jones, said. “But you’ve got to start them early, right?”
Once he started, there was no stopping for Leighton. Four years later at about eight years old – his second-grade year, as he describes it – he was locked into playing football. The same soon followed with his love of wrestling, when he met Chad Red of Red Cobra Wrestling Academy in Avon during his third-grade year.
“He absolutely loved it from day one, so we knew it was something that was going to take off,” Laurie Jones, Leighton’s mom, said. “I think just being involved in all these activities, they gave him immediate friends from early on and he’s such a social kid. All of these teams – I’ve got pictures where some of the boys he’s with right now, they’ve been wrestling together since Leighton was five or six. That’s how deep it runs.
“Forming these relationships was easy for him and then all of the sports time, that’s how he identified himself. We knew that he might actually be really good at both of these things.”
Even from a young age, one could probably guess what role Leighton would play on the Brownsburg high school wrestling team. He was already bigger than a lot of kids his age, especially those in the wrestling room.
“So, he either had to go against a lot of older guys or he just didn’t have training partners,” Marshall said. “His best friend’s dad and I kind of agreed that we would keep the boys together to play youth football because they didn’t have anyone else to drill against. With wrestling, there was no one else.”
That’s where the shift to Red Cobra came into play. He would step into the room and immediately be wrestling kids the same size as him, regardless of whether or not they were a few years older.
The strides he made at the academy level were immeasurable, due to his hard work and dedication to the sport. From the beginning, Red saw something special.
“I was just continuously seeing him growing, every year he continued to get better from day one coming in,” Red said. “I would always call him NFL just because he was a big kid, but he moved extremely well for his size and again, he had a great work ethic – never complained, always worked… he was always up at the front, one of the leaders of the pack.”
With his strong foundation set in both football and wrestling, Leighton’s drive and focus was locked completely into his opportunities in sports.
“That’s one thing that I’ve seen him do time and time again,” Marshall said. “He’ll go in and kind of assess [the situation], and once he has things [measured up], he locks it and it’s full steam ahead.”
Thus began a routine of constant travel for opportunities that Leighton couldn’t miss out on as he began to build the foundation for the football player and wrestler he is today. Opportunities that include, most recently, a selection to play at the US Army Bowl at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Texas just last month.
“Having your dad as a coach is pretty special,” Leighton said. “He’s always looking out for me, making sure I’m doing the right thing and always [trying] to give me the best chance at every opportunity, whether it’s taking me across the country for wrestling or going to football camps, whatever it was.”
The turning point of going down the sports-dominated road came with its challenges – challenges that often can extinguish the flame of enjoyment from young athletes early on.
For Leighton, the key to growing up and continuously having fun in the two sports that dominate his life began at home.
While Marshall is the designated coach in the household, Laurie is the force of power balancing out the scales to make sure they don’t tip too far into the pressure of being an athlete.
“My mom looked at my school stuff, my social stuff and made sure I was able to hang out with friends and have a normal childhood on top of going to tournaments every weekend,” Leighton said. “I felt like I was living a high school life in middle school just being on the road traveling non-stop. She’s made sure I was having a good time when I wasn’t in football and wrestling.”
For Laurie, school was the biggest thing. If Leighton worked as hard at school as he did on the football field or in the wrestling room, his future would be there waiting for him when the time came.
The social component, that came easy. He had developed relationships with his peers at Brownsburg from the early onset of sports, and they grew up together from the attraction to athletics.
“He has a natural desire to please and to work hard, so that work ethic he put right into school,” Laurie said. “And the relationships that he was forming spending all of these times with these families, it was just the perfect combination.”
With the well-rounded approach to Leighton’s development from an early age, it showed the future Division I football player that there was more to life than sports. It took the pressure off that side of his life, allowing him to thrive in it.
“It really went a long way and at the time I didn’t really notice it,” Leighton said. “I mean, nowadays, kids are cutting weight from like first grade and all of a sudden, they get to high school and want to quit. I feel like it kind of helped me make sure I wasn’t burnt out and just enjoyed the sport for what it was, rather than living and dying through it.”
The outside support for other aspects of his life helped Leighton’s drive stay strong in both football and wrestling. Working hard and staying focused in every aspect of his life is what sparked Iowa’s interest in him in the first place.
Following 6 AM workouts at Red Cobra, Leighton would make his way to Brownsburg football’s first-period weightlifting session. One day, that dedication to both sports went noticed and ultimately led to his commitment to the Hawkeyes.
“Iowa [defensive line] coach Kelvin Bell was there to talk to some other football recruits, just watched him work out and was really impressed with his work ethic,” Marshall said.” That [sentiment] just kept going with the [other] contacts at Iowa.”
Leighton’s hard work throughout his early high school years paid off, and his recruitment process rocketed with Iowa at the front and center. The interest shown from a number of college coaches who saw the combination of skills from football and wrestling was instrumental in how he would move forward.
“I honestly thought I was going to wrestle in college all the way until my sophomore year… I started getting recruited a lot more [in football] and that piqued my interest,” Leighton said. “I realized I could be a pretty big football recruit and go somewhere big.”
At the time, Jones was coming off a tough semifinal loss at the 2021 IHSAA State Tournament but finished strong in third place with a major decision against one of the best heavyweights in the state.
It wasn’t only his physicality that made Jones stand out, but his strong mentality.
“What was interesting, almost unilaterally regardless of the school, they almost talked to him more about his wrestling than football,” Marshall said. “I think it was that validation that, here’s a kid that’s competing at the highest levels in wrestling. A lot of the coaches were talking about his resiliency.”
In June 2021, following his sophomore year at Brownsburg, Leighton and Marshall took another cross-country trip for three total Big Ten camps in the span of a week, unofficially kicking off his recruiting process.
The trip, which took the Jones family all the way to Lincoln, Neb. for a freestyle camp and back east to Happy Valley for a Penn State football camp, made its first stop in Iowa City for Leighton’s first taste of Iowa football.
“When he went out to a camp at Iowa for an afternoon and was a defensive lineman, all the other coaches were noticing his footwork and hand skills and were like, ‘He’s a wrestler, right?’” Marshall said. “[Iowa head coach] Kirk Ferentz called him out and spoke to him personally – one out of like 200 linemen campers – and said, ‘You wrestle, right?’ That kind of became the discussion point.”
At their cores, wrestling and football are very different. Football is entirely a team mentality – as an offensive lineman, specifically, Leighton plays a crucial part in making sure plays develop the way they’re meant to. Wrestling, on the other hand – while there is still somewhat of a team component, moreso in some competitive environments than others – leans hard into an individual drive to succeed.
When you lose in football, it’s a full team loss. The emotional and mental weight that comes from wrestling is often completely different.
“I always kind of preferred football because it’s obviously easier,” Leighton said with a laugh. “When you lose, you don’t feel [that immense, individual pressure].”
Having an individual mentality instilled in him from an early age improved his growth on the football field, one of the ways the two sports go hand-in-hand.
When it comes to reaching his goals and focusing in on the individual fundamentals that will ultimately help the Iowa football team when he takes to the turf.
“I always have my goals in mind and where I’m trying to get to,” Leighton said. “That goes along with preparing more and being honest about my weaknesses and strengths, as well as the role I play on the team.”
Leighton is able to tap into that team mentality too, especially in the leadership role he plays during Brownsburg wrestling practices.
“I was always kind of a ‘lead by example’ guy, but this year my goal was to be more vocal,” Leighton said. “I mean, the senior heavyweight – most people will listen in the room, and if they don’t then you’ve kind of got to get into them a little. It’s really helped a lot, now they just kind of know [what to expect] every day when they walk into the room and to work hard.”
Fundamentally, wrestling and being an offensive lineman pair well when developing skills. Leighton is a strong, quick athlete whose abilities on the wrestling mat translate well to the gridiron.
“Wrestling and football complement each other in such a way that you don’t get burnt out on wrestling because the training is so tough if you train year-round,” Marshall said. “[Leighton] would train year-round in wrestling that was just really complementing his footwork, his hand-fighting and his actual mental game.”
The Iowa football program is a leader in developing successful wrestlers to become some of the best offensive lineman in the game. Tristian Wirfs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tyler Linderbaum of the Baltimore Ravens are two recent, strong examples coming out of Kinnick Stadium.
When going through his recruiting process, the love of building their offensive line with former wrestlers is what drew him in on the Hawkeye program.
“Leighton fits the mold of many former Iowa offensive linemen that have come before him here in Iowa City,” Tyler Barnes, Director of Recruiting for Iowa football said via email. “He is a relentless competitor both on the football field and on the wrestling mat. He competes in both sports with a dominant mentality, and we love the chip he has on his shoulder. Leighton is one of those guys who can flip the switch once he starts competing and those are the guys opponents should worry about.”
Leighton went on an unofficial visit in July of 2021, one month after the camp that got him noticed by Ferentz. In September he visited again, this time taking in the experience he might have running onto the field in Iowa City one day.
“I went on a gameday visit to their first game in 2021 vs. [Indiana], and it was the most incredible thing I’ve ever been to,” Leighton said. “You don’t get that…anywhere else. I thought it was pretty special.
“I realized it was different, and that as long as the coaches weren’t going to leave, they were honest, and they wanted what’s best for me and would push me [to reach my goals].”
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2023 Regional Streaming Links
Crown Point Regional
Hobart Regional Opening Round and Semi-Finals
Hobart Regional Finals
Jay County Regional
Carroll Regional Mat 1
Carroll Regional Mat 2
Carroll Regional Mat 3
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2023 IHSWCA Team State Information
Date: January 7th, 2023
Click here to see the qualification procedures for teams participating
Click here to see the leaderboard throughout the state series
Team State Pick'ems
Click here to access the pick'ems
1A and 3A- Franklin Community High School
2A- Jay County High School
4A- Brownsburg High School
Doors open 8:00am
Wrestling beings at 9:00am
$15- Adults and Students
Preschool and IHSWCA members FREE
1A Event Link
Adams Central, Bluffton, Cascade, Cowan, North Posey, Prairie Heights, Rochester, Southmont, Tell City, West Central, Winamac
Vote-In: South Adams
2A Event Link
Bellmont, Delta, Garrett, Hamilton Heights, Heritage Hills, Jay County, New Prairie, Norwell, Rensselaer Central, Wawasee, Western
Vote-In: Owen Valley
3A Event Link
East Central, Floyd Central, Hobart, Mishawaka, Roncalli, Terre Haute South
Vote In: Greenfield-Central and Columbus East(New Haven withdrew from the event)
4A Event Link
Brownsburg, Carmel, Center Grove, Crown Point, Evanville Mater Dei, Indianapolis Cathedral, Penn
Vote In: Perry Meridian
****Including Streaming Info****
Streaming is through TrackWrestling/FloWrestling and cost is a yearly subscription of $150.
Click here to access the event on TrackWrestling
Click here for FloWrestling Streaming page
*Note: If you want a monthly subscription option you can subscribe to FloBowling and utilize that membership to watch wrestling or any other sports they offer. The cost is $30 per month for a monthly option.
Location: Martinsville High School, Franklin Community High School, and Brownsburg High School
1A: Tell City
3A: Columbus East
4A: Crown Point
Location: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Franklin Community High School, and Brownsburg High School
1A: Tell City
3A: East Central
4A: Evansville Mater Dei
Location: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
1A: North Posey
3A: Indianapolis Cathedral
Location: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
1A: Adams Central
Location: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
1A: Prairie Heights
Location: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
1A: Prairie Heights
Location: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
1A: Prairie Heights
Location: Ball State
1A: Adams Central
3A: Evansville Mater Dei
Location: Westfield High School
Location: Westfield High School
1A: Adams Central
3A: Perry Meridian
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Bulldog Breakdown: Dominant Opening Performances Propel Brownsburg to Avon, Ironman
By Anna Kayser
As the clocked ticked down toward the end of November into the beginning of December and the temperature dropped below freezing, the heat of the 2022-23 IHSAA wrestling season was cranked to high and since, the Brownsburg Bulldogs have surged.
No match of which, in the first official varsity competition, was more indicative of that than No. 9 Mason Day’s electric, overtime win over No. 6 Ike O’Neill – a senior and 2022 state qualifier at 138 pounds – with the entire gymnasium on its feet last Wednesday.
Sandwiching a quartet of pins by No. 11 Landon Haines (126), Tommy Gibbs (132), No. 138 Parker Reynolds (138) and No. 20 Jesse Derringer (152), Day gritted his way through a season-opening victory. After opening the match with a takedown late in the first period, he found himself in a one-point deficit in the waning seconds of the third until an escape in the waning seconds forced overtime.
“We went into overtime, and I could see that he was tired,” Day said. “I kind of looked over at my coaches and smiled. I was ready to work.”
With an escape forcing a number of overtime periods and his entire team, coaching staff and fanbase behind him as he clung to O’Neill’s leg to avoid a point scored against him, he raised his hand in triumph for his first varsity victory after the ultimate ride out.
“We felt pretty good going into overtime because Mason’s a tough kid,” head coach Darrick Snyder said. “He’s only a sophomore, but the kid’s been wrestling his entire life. He’s been in dozens and dozens of overtime matches, so I would just think his mentality [was the biggest part].”
And without a number of prominent, ranked wrestlers on the mat, Brownsburg kicked off its season in a frenzy, defeating the Westfield Shamrocks, 60-13.
“I thought we competed well, and I was really excited,” Snyder said. “We had some young kids – some backups –perform really, really well. Overall, I thought it was good considering it was our first meet.”
Most notably missing from the Bulldogs’ Wednesday night lineup were No. 1 Preston Haines (113), No. 2 Jake Hockaday (120) and No. 2 Leighton Jones (285), but as the week came to a close, those three made their presence known.
In Harrison, OH at the William Henry Harrison Invitational, the Bulldogs continued their dominant opening to the season with a perfect 5-0 record in duals against Oak Hills, Miamisburg, Lebanon, East Central and Harrison. Leading the squad were nine undefeated wrestlers donning purple singlets – Revin Dickman, Kyle Callahan, Preston Haines, Hockaday, Landon Haines, Gibbs, Brady Ison, Gunner Henry and Jones.
As the campaign – and winter cold and flu season – progresses and the Bulldogs lineup shifts due to injury and illness, having a stacked lineup of wrestlers who can compete at a high level brings advantages not only to team success, but individual success as well.
“You can’t replace their experience and success,” head coach Darrick Snyder said. “I think when you’re competing for a team state championship, when you have all your guns and you have some of the dudes we have, it leaves a little room for error.
“I think it allows everyone to relax a little more, wrestle free because they know they’ve got some friends that can pick up the slack if they have an off match or a tough tournament.”
After getting into the weeds on how the Bulldog wrestling program – now rated No. 2 in the IndianaMat State Power Poll behind Crown Point – was built from the ground up with Snyder at the helm over nearly a decade, now we look forward.
Snyder isn’t shy about building his schedule to make the athletes better in their quest to reach the podium at Gainbridge Fieldhouse come February.
Tonight, Brownsburg opens its home schedule to take on Avon before heading to – arguably – its biggest non-championship event of the season: the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Invitational.
Dickman, Preston Haines, Hockaday, Ison, Reynolds, Caden Brewer, Henry and Jones will take the mat in the nationally recognized tournament to kick the season into full gear, especially with the lack of matches leading up to the tournament from Dec. 9-10.
“We’re hoping everyone gets at least four or five matches just because the way I [put together] our season, we don’t compete early because I think it takes a lot of time to get into wrestling shape,” Snyder said. “We’re not going to have a lot of opportunities to compete before Ironman, so we’re trying to get as many matches as we can this weekend.”
Of the Bulldogs’ eight representatives at Ironman this weekend, four are returning placers at IHSAA state last season and are anchors to a lineup that is hard to score points against: Hockaday, who became the first freshman to win a state title in team history; Preston Haines, runner-up at 113; Henry, third-place at 182 and Jones, who is entering his senior season with a drive for a title after placing third at heavyweight.
Following this weekend, the schedule doesn’t slow until the holiday break approaches. On Dec. 17, Brownsburg travels to the Crown Point Invitational, hosted by the team’s main competitive rival following a second-place team finish in the state tournament last year.
Even as the level of competition rises, one of the main focuses of Bulldog wrestlers is keeping an even mentality, despite what might have occurred – good or bad – in the last match.
“I wouldn’t say [my win against Westfield] really changes anything. I go into every match thinking the same – that I need to win it no matter what,” Day said. “You’ve got to keep a good, good, good head. You’ve got to stay clear minded and just work for your goals.”
Paul Rademacher to Lead Indiana Tech Women’s Wrestling Program
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Indiana Tech has hired Paul Rademacher to lead its women’s wrestling program, Director of Athletics Debbie Warren announced Monday.
“We are ecstatic to bring Paul into the Warrior Family and lead our women’s wrestling program,” Warren said. “His background in freestyle wrestling, knowledge of the NAIA and overall experience elevated him in this highly competitive search and we look forward to seeing him build the program and grow the sport of women’s wrestling in the Midwest.”
A former wrestler at Oregon State University, Rademacher comes to Tech following a two-year stint at Southern Oregon University, where he was the Associate Head Coach for the women’s wrestling team.
“I am very excited and honored to be selected to be the first Women's Wrestling Head Coach at Indiana Tech,” Rademacher said. “It was very obvious that Indiana Tech was fully invested in starting this program and being successful. I believe Fort Wayne will be a great place for Women's Wrestling and that student-athletes will come from around the country to join the Warriors and be a part of the Indiana Tech community.”
During his two years with the Raiders he went 14-14 and led the team to an eighth place finish at the first-ever NAIA National Invitational this past March and a 12th-place performance at the Women’s College Wrestling Association (WCWA) Championships in 2018. He mentored six All-Americans during his time in Ashland.
“The opportunity to start the program from scratch and set a culture of character, integrity, academic and athletic excellence was a major draw for me,” Rademacher said. “I look forward to working with the other athletic programs to continue the national success that Indiana Tech has produced. I would like to thank AD Debbie Warren, Dr. Daniel J. Stoker (VP for Student Affairs), and President Dr. Karl W. Einolf for believing in me and for this opportunity.”
Prior to his time at SOU, Rademacher served as the head coach for the boys and girls wrestling teams at Henley High School (Ore.) for two seasons and was in charge of Mount Vernon High School (Wash.) before that. he had 40 wrestlers place during his time at the prep ranks while four became state champions under his tutelage, while he recorded two top-four finishes in the Oregon State Athletic Association (OSAA) Tournament.
A 1999 graduate of Chiloquin High, Rademacher competed from 1999-2003 at Oregon State, where he named to the Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team as a senior. He continued to compete post-collegiately, and in 2014 placed second in the Veteran’s Greco Roman Division B 76-kilogram class and third in the Veteran’s Freestyle Division B 76-kilogram class. He was a quarterfinalist in the 2014 US Open Freestyles at 74-kilograms and won the 2012 Washington State Tournament Greco-Roman in the 85-kilogram division.
Rademacher is a USA Wrestling Bronze Certified Coach and was the head coach of the Oregon Junior National Team from 2015-18. He served as a wildland firefighter from 2000-15 at Baker River IHC was a member of the U.S. Forest Service in Washington.
He received his Master’s Degree in Teaching – Science from Western Governors University in 2017 and graduated from OSU with a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Sports Science with a concentration in Fitness Management. Rademacher and his wife, Gretchen, have been married since 2004.
The Warriors will begin competing as a team in the 2020-21 academic year. To learn more about women’s wrestling in the NAIA click here. To learn more about Indiana Tech women’s wrestling, click here. Interested student-athletes may fill out a recruit questionnaire here.
Dingo's Den #1
This week in Hoosier collegiate wrestling, Article 1
Hey everyone. It's your faithful narrator Dingo here. This past week, there were some interesting developments in the world of D1 wrestling concerning some of our former Indiana high school wrestlers.
The most notable, obviously, involves Alexander Tsirtsis, or T-shirts as some of our lazier friends on the national sites call him. Coming off a redshirt year, a heated competition for the 141 spot with 4-time Iowa high school state champ Dan LeClere and a 'bunged up' shoulder (thanks, Kentucky Mudflap), Alex has firmly established himself as a strong candidate for the current number one ranked wrestler in the nation at 141 pounds. Alex followed up wins earlier in the season over #11 Chris Drouin of ASU, #17 Alex Krom of Maryland and #19 (Intermat) Eric Kruger of Central Michigan with a stirring, last second (literally) win over then-top ranked Nick Gallick of Iowa State. Alex reversed Gallick with 1 second left in the match. Cael and company protested vigorously, but the replay seemed to confirm that the correct call was made. Alex has grown some pretty girthy locks this year and, so far, he has responded like Samson. The current themat.com Wrestler of the Week, the Griffith HS product looks physically stronger than ever, and he actually chose the down position in the third period of his match with Gallick, showing that he has improved on a long-standing weakness and is unafraid of working from the bottom, even in crunch time. It's a long, long season, but Alex has started his senior campaign undefeated and looking like a strong contender for a national title.
Another wrestler from Indiana having an outstanding start to his season is Kurt Kinser, formerly of Bloomington South HS. Competing so far this season at 157, a position he earned by knocking off former All-American and Evansville Mater Dei wrestler Matt Coughlin, Kurt finished 7th at this past week's Cliff Keen Las Vegas Open. Kinser won his first two matches, including a nice win over Penn's Matt Dragon. However, last year's national champion at 157, Jordan Leen of Cornell, was his next opponent. Kurt kept it respectable versus the senior, but ultimately fell to Leen in their quarterfinals match 6-1. Kinser won his first match in the consolation bracket, then fell to 5th seeded Chase Pami of Cal Poly. Kurt finished his day by beating 6th seeded senior Jason Johnstone of Ohio State. A very tough draw kept Kurt from finishing higher, and he absorbed his first losses of the season. Earlier this season, Kurt pinned national #1 recruit Jason Welch of Northwestern and defeated #9 Matt Moley of American. Moley was also an All-American last year. Kurt has shown that he can hang with the big dogs at this bigger weight class.
Andrew Howe had a pretty successful outing for a true freshman competing in a stacked tourney, finishing 5th above some notable wrestlers. The Juggernaut won his first two matches, including a nail-biter over highly regarded 8th seed Mike Galante of Lehigh. Like Kinser, Howe had a very tough draw in the quarters; top-seed and returning AA Mack Lewnes of Cornell. Like Kinser, Howe kept it respectable, dropping a 6-2 decision. Andrew won his first consolation match, then received a forfeit, then dropped a surprisingly lop-sided match to returning AA Stephen Dwyer of Nebraska.
Obviously, space and time constraints prevent me from detailing other significant results by former Indiana high school wrestlers, but fear not, for I'll have another piping hot serving of recap coming down the pike next week.
In closing, the following former Indiana high school wrestlers are ranked:
125 #2 Angel Escobedo IU (#2 really????)
133 #9 Reece Humphrey OSU
141 #1 Alex Tsirtsis Iowa
157 #14 Kurt Kinser IU (behind Matt Dragon and Matt Moley????)
165 #9 Andrew Howe Wisc
125 #1 Escobedo
133 #10 Humphrey
141 #4 Tsirtsis
141 #13 Andrae Hernandez IU
157 #17 Matt Coughlin IU
125 #1 Escobedo
133 #7 Humphrey
141 #3 Tsirtsis
141 #7 Hernandez
157 #9 Kinser
125 #1 Escobedo
133 #9 Humphrey
141 #2 Tsirtsis
157 #16 Kinser
Toe to Joe with Eric McGill
[caption id=" align="aligncenter" width="291" caption="Eric McGill wrestling against Pittsburgh's Headlee][/caption]
The first installment of Toe to Joe is an interview with Cornell wrestler and former two-time Indiana state champion Eric McGill.
1. Why did you choose to go to Cornell?
[caption id=" align="alignleft" width="143" caption="Cornell wrestlers running up a hill][/caption]
Choosing which college to attend was probably the hardest, and, in retrospect, best decision that I have made for myself at this point in my life. I chose Cornell University over Stanford, Princeton, Central Michigan, and Purdue because Cornell allowed me the opportunity to acquire an Ivy League education, while at the same time, wrestling for a top-5 Division 1 college program. It was simply something that I could not pass up. The contacts that I have already met, and will continue to meet at Cornell will hopefully put me on a path to success. Just within the network of former Cornell wrestlers, not even including the rest of the university, we have a former CEO of Goldman-Sachs, a former assistant of economic policy to the President of the United States, and a mission specialist for NASA's space shuttle Atlantis, just to name a few. Every year, Cornell wrestlers go to work on Wall Street and become successful very early in their adult lives.
2. Outside of wrestling, what are your other interests and hobbies?
Although schoolwork and wrestling take up a large amount of my time, I still like to have other outlets to take my mind off of these stresses. My Sundays are always devoted to NASCAR and the NFL and I am a huge fan of Tony Stewart and the Chicago Bears. I have been a Chicago Cubs fan since the day I was born and I rarely miss a Cubs game on either the radio or the TV throughout the course of the summer. Also in the summer, I like to fish as much as I can with my grandpa at his lake in Cedar Lake, Indiana. We fish for largemouth bass and bluegill, mostly. Although I have never gone ice fishing, some of the guys on the team have talked about going soon because the winters are so cold here in New York. I'm looking forward to it; hopefully it will be a good time! I am also a big fan of MMA and my favorite fighter is WEC Champ Miguel Torres. He has a high pace, attacking style and is such a well-rounded fighter that it makes him very fun to watch. Miguel grew up with one of my high school wrestling coaches, Bobby Joe Maldonado, in East Chicago, Indiana and we have worked with Miguel on his wrestling in the past.
3. What is the biggest difference between high school and collegiate wrestling?
The two biggest differences between high school and college wrestling are parity and mat wrestling. What I mean by parity is that every single time that you step on the mat, you know that you are going to be in a closely contested match. In high school, if you are at the top, elite level, you may have just 5 or 6 matches a year that are even close. The mental preparation that you must go through to get ready for these big matches is the same from high school to college, except that instead of having to prepare this way 5 or 6 times a season, it could be 5 or 6 times in a day at a college tournament. Another big difference is mat wrestling. For me, the transition on my feet from high school to college was not nearly as big as what I learned on the mat. My top wrestling has gotten infinitely better since high school, and I wish that I knew some of the things in high school that I have picked up from the top position at Cornell. My bottom wrestling is still my biggest weakness, although I am continuing to work to shore it up. I have found myself losing a few close matches recently because of my inability to consistently get off of the bottom. If you can't get away, not only are you not getting an escape, but he is also getting a riding time point. For this reason, if you can't get away on bottom, it's like starting every single match down 2-0. It's hard to win the close matches when you are giving away 2 points.
4. Do you think we should get rid of folkstyle and wrestle the international styles in high school and college? Why or why not?
Although I feel that USA Wrestling would probably see more success at the Olympic and World level if they were to get rid of folkstyle at the high school and college level, I, personally, am against it. As of right now, the successful international style is not very spectator-friendly. It is low-scoring and does not promote action. At the elite high school and college level, on the other hand, you will see a high-pace, attacking style, with lots of exciting scrambles. If nothing else, folkstyle is more fun to watch. The top high school and college level guys in the United States are still wrestling the international styles in folkstyle's "off-season" at tournaments such as Fargo, University Nationals, FILA Jr's., U.S. Nationals, etc., so our international guys are not coming into the game clueless just because they spent the majority of their wrestling careers wrestling folkstyle. Bubba Jenkins from Penn State showed everyone that it's possible to compete in college in today's day in age and still enjoy international success when he won the FILA Jr. World Championship. On the other hand, Henry Cejudo provided an argument for the other side, since he decided to forego college wrestling in order to improve his freestyle, and that seemed to work out pretty well for him, too.
5. What is your college major and why did you choose that area?
At this point, my major is Economics within Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences. I have also declared a minor in Law and Society within Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences. I feel that this course of study gives me the most versatile set of options upon the completion of my undergraduate degree. Friends of mine who have graduated from Cornell with Economics degrees have gotten jobs on Wall Street and become successful at very young ages. If an opportunity like that were to fall into my lap, it would be tough to pass by. However, with the economy in its current condition, and the uncertainty of Wall Street at the present time, I also have the options to go to Business school and work towards an MBA, go to Law School, or both.
6. What is the most memorable match you have wrestled in?
I have wrestled in so many matches that it would be hard to classify one as my "most memorable match." For this reason, I will just run through some that stick out in my mind for various reasons, from all the way back in youth wrestling, all the way up until my college career. For me, there is no better feeling than avenging a loss. When I think back on losses that I have avenged, a few stick out in particular. The first happened in 6th grade. Growing up wrestling in Illinois' IKWF youth program, I used to always wrestle a kid from the Harvey Twisters named Mario Morgan, who now wrestles in Division 2 at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The first time that we wrestled was when I was 8 years old and he tech-falled me 15-0. We would go on to wrestle each other almost every single year after that with him winning every single time, but the score getting closer and closer and closer. Finally, in 6th grade, I beat him and it was extremely gratifying to see that I had not only caught up to him, but passed him. He served as a sort of measuring stick for my progress from the time I was 8 years old until the 6th grade, and I had finally outgrown it! Another avenged loss that sticks out in my mind happened in 8th grade. At Liberty Nationals that year, I lost 6-0 in the 3rd and 4th place match to a kid from New Mexico named Matt Ortega, who went on to win Senior Nationals and now wrestles at IU. Just 3 weeks later at the Virginia Challenge, we wrestled again in the finals and I beat him 5-2. The first match of my sophomore year in high school sticks out as another gratifying victory. My freshman year I went 46-1 and advanced to the state championship match at 103 where I lost 4-2 to Jon Lloyd from Warren Central. The very first match of the following season at 119 we wrestled again in the first round of the Indianapolis Cathedral Super Six and I came out on top of that one by an identical score, 4-2. Other than those 3 matches, my first high school state title, a 3-2 win against Adam Walters from Portage at 125 in 2006, and the whole 7-match series with Brennan Cosgrove which culminated in my second high school state title sticks out as some other matches that were memorable in my career. Two that stick out as particularly memorable in that 7 match series were the very first two. In the first one, a dual meet at Hobart in which we were battling back and forth, exchanging takedowns and reversals and backpoints and I won 9-8 with a takedown in the final seconds. The second match in that series, the finals of the Lake County Tournament was also memorable. He threw me to my back in the first period and I was down by 5 right away. I slowly picked the lead off one point at a time and came back and won 10-9, also with a takedown in the final seconds. He won the third match, a 5-2 decision in the finals of the Lake Athletic Conference Tournament. He also won the fourth match, a 3-1 decision in the finals of the Hobart Invite. The fifth match, the Calumet Regional finals, was a memorable one, even though it went to him by a score of 9-7 In that one we put a lot of points on the board and it came right down to the wire. In the sixth, the Merrillville Semi-State finals, he was winning late in the 3rd period when he was disqualified for an illegal slam. The 7th and final match for the state championship also came right down to the wire and an escape with under 30 seconds to go gave me the 6-5 win. Those are what I would classify as my most memorable matches, however, the best atmosphere that I have wrestled in would undoubtedly be the hostile crowd in the dual meet at Penn State last year when I faced returning All-American Jake Strayer. The state championship match is a fun atmosphere, but nothing compares to thousands of fans who are out for your blood, and sitting literally inches from the edge of the mat. They actually pushed you back on when you went out of bounds.
7. Class wrestling, yay or nay?
Although I can see both sides of the argument, I am against class wrestling in the individual state tournament. At this point, with Indiana wrestling still growing and looking to gain national attention, I do not feel that there is enough depth to successfully split up the individual state tournament. At each weight class, the top 5 kids are head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, and until Indiana can qualify 16 kids for the state tournament (and maybe even leave some at home) that are capable of beating the state champion on any given day, I feel that class wrestling would have a watering-down effect on the individual state tournament. In the past couple of years, it has become a more nationally recognized accomplishment to win 2 or 3 state titles in Indiana with guys such as Matt Coughlin and Andrae Hernandez becoming All-Americans after winning only 2 Indiana state titles. If Indiana was to split up the individual state tournament, kids who are not on this elite level would be winning multiple state titles, and the image of Indiana wrestling in the national picture would suffer a setback. Although this is how I feel about class wrestling in the individual state tournament, I am open to the idea of class wrestling for the team state tournament. In the past years, with the exception of Evansville Mater Dei, who has an unrivaled feeder system, the team state tournament has been dominated by large schools, and I do not see any problem with splitting that tournament up into classes.
8. Who is the most influential person in your life? Why?
The most influential people in my life are my parents. They were the ones who set me up with the opportunities that have helped me get where am I today. They each played pivotal roles that you don't quite understand until you get older and are able to look back on it. My dad was at almost every single practice up until I got into high school and would drive me all over for the best coaches and workout partners. I'm sure he could have found more relaxing things to do after work. He was also a driving force behind my success in school and was always motivating me to do better. My mom never missed a match and did the "behind-the-scenes" work which often gets taken for granted. She was able to put up with me as I cut weight, taking my special diet into account every night as she prepared dinner, and always made sure all my clothes were washed and ready for the next day's workouts. Both of my parents put me and my success and interests before themselves and I am very grateful for this.
9. Do you have any superstitions or routines when it comes to wrestling?
Those who know me know that I am extremely superstitious when it comes to wrestling. There are so many I can think of, that I will just name a few. First, I eat and drink the exact same thing in the exact same order after each and every time that I weigh-in for a competition. My morning warm-up always consists of the exact same number of reps and exact same techniques every single week. I also wear the exact same items of clothing at every single competition. I have my singlet on, and on top of that I have a t-shirt and shorts, followed by a long sleeve t-shirt, followed by a sweatshirt and warm-up pants. Three matches before I am going to wrestle, I take off the sweatshirt and warm-up pants. Two matches before I am going to wrestle I take off the shorts and long sleeve t-shirt, and when there is 30 seconds left in the third period of the match before I am about to wrestle, I take off the t-shirt. This is just something that I have been doing for a long time, and works well as a routine for me, although many people find it quirky.
10. The weight class 103â€¦ keep it or get rid of it?
Being a former 103 pounder, I am all for keeping 103. Here in New York, they even have a 96 lb. weight class. There are just too many talented kids at 103 to get rid of it. I was just looking back at my 103 lb. weight class at state and noticed that there were 4 kids in there that went on to be high school state champions. That's 1 out of every 4 kids that made it that year! I am also against moving 103 up to a higher weight like 108. Every year there are upperclassmen at 103 that are less skilled than some freshman at the same weight class but win because of a size, strength, and maturity advantage. If 103 got moved up to 108, this problem would be even larger since more upperclassmen could make 108 than can make 103.
Just as a fair warning to future people that want to go Toe to Joe, this is what Eric looked like afterward.
[caption id=" align="aligncenter" width="666" caption="This is Eric Mcgill after going Toe to Joe][/caption]
Pound for Pound Best Wrestlers 12/11/2008
IndianaMat.com Pound for Pound Rankings
1. Cashe Quiroga- Lawrence North
2. Brandon Wright- Cathedral
3. Josh Harper- Mishawaka
4. Sean McMurray- Portage
5. Eric Roach- Crown Point
6. Marcus Shrewsbury- Crown Point
7. Steven Sandefer- Mishawaka
7. Jason Tsirtsis- Crown Point
9. Camden Eppert- Anderson Highland
10. Frankie Porras- Hobart
Briar Runyan- Martinsville
Taylor March- East Noble
Michael Duckworth- Union County
Adam Chalfant- Winchester
Alex Tsirtsis Wrestler of the Week
Iowa's Alex Tsirtsis named TheMat.com Wrestler of the Week
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Alex Tsirtsis (Griffith, Ind./University of Iowa) has been named TheMat.com Wrestler of the Week for Dec. 2-8.
Each week, TheMat.com will select an Athlete of the Week, based upon performance within wrestling for that week. The selection committee will consider any level of wrestling, from youth programs through the Senior level.
The third-ranked Tsirtsis posted a 4-2 win over second-ranked Nick Gallick to lead No. 1 Iowa to a 20-15 win over No. 2 Iowa State on Saturday night before 15,955 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. It was the largest dual meet crowd in NCAA history.
Tsirtsis' win at 141 pounds provided a huge boost as the Hawkeyes won 6 of 10 matches over the Cyclones. Tsirtsis scored a reversal with one second left in the match to pull out the win.
Tsirtsis, a senior, is in his fourth year as a Hawkeye starter. He placed seventh in the 2006 NCAA Championships. He redshirted during the 2007-08 season before jumping back into the Iowa lineup this season.
Karl Hungus Among Us Traicoff Recap
Cavemen Pass Mid-Season Test
CALUMET: Some of Indiana's best wrestling programs as well as fifty ranked individuals took their annual migration northwest to '˜da region' to participate in a sixteen team mid-season meat grinder of a wrestling tournament. The Chris Traicoff Memorial Invitational held yesterday in the Calumet Fieldhouse lived up to its billing as the "Premier dual meet tournament in the state of Indiana." The competition was so tough that a defending state and national champion (Cathedral's Brandon Wright) ended his day with a 3-2 record. The day was surely grueling for all involved, but that is just the type of atmosphere in which the Mishawaka Cavemen seem to thrive as they aced this semester exam by going 5-0 on the day, defeating Crown Point 39-28 in round 5.
The format for the Traicoff had top seeds (Mishawaka, Crown Point, Cathedral, and Lawrence North) meeting in round robin action after each dispatched their first two round opponents. Although the top four teams separated themselves fairly easily, that did not mean there were not some upsets of note in the early going.
Most notably was young #13 ranked 103 pounder Brian Harvey of Cathedral defeating second ranked Dustin Keif of Franklin 8-4. With the score 2-2 after the first period, Harvey rode Keif the entire 2nd period. Keif chose the optional start for the third period, giving Harvey a slim 3-2 lead. On their feet, Harvey caught Keif in a firemans dump that became a 5 point move when Harvey held Keif in nearfall position. Keif reversed Harvey late in the third to provide the final score (8-4). Another upset occurred at the 145 lb. class where #10 ranked Chris Almarez of Highland relied on strong leg work to protect his 4-2 lead, riding #3 Gavin McGinley of Cathedral for nearly all of the third period. McGinley finally did shake himself free with 15 seconds remaining in the third, but last year's 3rd place finisher at state did not have enough time to attempt a solid takedown, ensuring a 4-3 victory for Amarez. One final minor upset occurred at 189, where Portage's Kyle Keith turned Mishawaka's #13 Dustin Boyd in the third period to earn a hard fought 5-4 victory.
The first set of duals in the winner's bracket had Lawrence North taking on Mishawaka and Crown Point brawling with Cathedral. The Irish had early momentum when #3 Gavin McGinley stacked up #12 Nick Bruno for the fall midway through the second period. Cathedral earned a major decision at 152 to take an early 10-0 lead. CP's senior leader #2 Mark Myers righted the Bulldog ship by snatching two takedowns and utilizing a tight crossface ride for most of the match to defeat #11 Tyler Willis of Cathedral. A turning point for Crown Point occurred at 215 where the Bulldog's Jim Bakalik came back from a 4-2 deficit to wear down Cathedral's Jake Buchanan. Bakalik obviously filled up the gas tank before leaving as he hustled and scrambled his way to a 7-4 victory. In another battle of ranked opponents, Cathedral's #13 Brain Harvey defeated his second ranked opponent, #10 Cameron Halsted, 1-0. In a marquee match-up at 125, defending state champ and second ranked Brandon Wright of Cathedral squared off against Indiana wrestling royalty, freshman #3 Jason Tsirtsis of Crown Point. In the first period Tsirtsis used a snap down, duck under to a single in which he finished nicely. Tsirtsis led 2-0 after one period. Wright came back to tie the match with a lightning quick switch on the whistle to begin the second period. Tsirtsis then escaped to take a narrow 3-2 lead heading into the third. Tsirtsis extended his lead to 5-2 in the third before giving up a takedown to narrow the score to 5-4. Tsirtsis escaped to finish off the scoring at 6-4. Not to be outdone, Cathedral's #4 John Grey staged a thrilling overtime victory over #9 Dallas Schurg, 3-2. At 135 Crown Point's #1 Eric Roach was very impressive in turning #9 Dominic Corsano with a variety of tilts and wings to earn a technical fall at 16-0. Roach's victory sealed the team victory as well, 29-22.
In the match-up of Mishawaka and Lawrence North, the Caveman used their depth to rest a couple of their starters in defeating the Wildcats, 38-25. The only contest matching ranked wrestlers had #7 Bryce Grimes of LN utilizing a number of low singles and double leg takedowns to defeat #13 Joey Smith, 10-2.
Second round highlights included #11 Tyler Willis of Cathedral winning an entertaining match over Richard Morin of Mishawaka. #3 Anthony Hawkins of Crown Point gave up a 3 point lead to #2 Brandon Nelson of Lawrence North in the third only to cut Nelson in the thirty second overtime period and then take down Nelson to win. #1 Josh Harper of Mishawaka wrestled his first match of the day against the Irish's #4 John Grey and showed no rust in a dominating 16-0 technical fall. In marquee match-up number 2, freshman Jason Tsirtsis had another opportunity to defeat a defending state champ when he squared off with #1 Cashe Quiroga. The first period was scoreless, Tsirtsis escaped and as they were on their feet Quiroga locked up and threw an upper body toss to take the lead 2-1. Tsirtsis escaped in the second to even the match 2-2. In the third Quiroga escaped, and deftly countered numerous takedown attempts to win 3-2. Finally, in another bout matching up two heavy hitters, #1 Steve Sandefer of Mishawaka utilized a slick ankle pick to defeat #2 Tony McGinley by the score of 3-2. Coincidently, this was exactly the same margin Sandefer had in his victory over McGinley in last years state semi-final match. Second round match scores in the championship bracket: MHS 29 CATH 23, CP 42 LN 13.
The championship match pitted the top two seeds, #1 Mishawaka versus #2 Crown Point in a battle where 19 ranked wrestlers would pound it out on the mat to see who would be an early favorite to take home the team hardware in February. The match started at 160 and CP's #2 Mark Myers used 3 takedowns and a nearfall to post a major decision against Richard Morin. #13 Joey Smith gutted out a tough 8-5 victory over CP's Jeremy Kooi. Smith was wrestling on a knee that he tweaked earlier in the day and was visibly in pain through much of the match but was able to ignore it enough to earn 3 team points for the Cavemen. At 189, #1 ranked Marcus Shrewsbury of Crown Point capped of a phenomenal day in which he was never really tested by turning #13 Dustin Boyd with an arm bar and collecting a pin in 1:55. Mishawaka took control of the match with victories at 215, 285 and 103. Most surprising of these was Mishawaka's 103 Taylor Wisler running a wing and pinning the Bulldog's #10 Cameron Halstead just :59 into the first period. Wisler, a relative unknown statewide, will no doubt be force to reckoned with come February. At 112, CP's #3 Anthony Hawkins garnered his second exciting overtime victory, defeating the pesky Paul Beck 7-6. The Cavemen's #16 Matt Guerra posted a minor upset by defeating #10 Josh Mannes 6-4. Guerra is not flashy but is extremely tough on his feet and he has improved his mat wrestling from a year ago. #3 Jason Tsirtsis was up next for the Bulldogs and he used a rock solid front headlock to secure 3 takedowns on Mishawaka's Nick Schrader through two periods. Schrader fought gamely to stay off his back but succumbed to hard half nelson and was pinned at 4:32. A relatively fresh Josh Harper of Mishawaka was slick on his takedown of #9 Dallas Schurg, threw legs and utilized a physical power half to turn and pin Schurg in 1:32. At 135, CP's #1 Eric Roach battled to a 5-2 victory. Next up was defending state champ Mishawaka's #1 Steve Sandefer. He put on a front headlock takedown clinic in a major decision victory over #14 Josh Flamme. Sandefer's victory secured the team title for the Cavemen. The Cavemen split the last two matches with Mishawaka's Alex White defeating #12 Nich Bruno 6-3 and Crown Point's Jeremy Pogorzelski receiving an injury default over # 16 Tim Forte making the final score 39-28.
It should be noted that the Traicoff Invite not only pits numerous first-class Indiana high school wrestlers in action but also was an opportunity to see a set of first-class referees work. Men like Chuck Barnett, Mike Faulkner, Dan McCartney, Jim Hoover, Barry Woodward, Bart Welch, Chris Conlisk, Tim Servies, Craig Bultemeier, and 21 Traicoff veteran Mike Golando work awfully hard multiple nights of the week and give up their weekends to provide outstanding officiating for our Indiana wrestlers. On a final note, a special thanks to Jim Wadkins and the staff of the Traicoff for running this event that provides us fans with such great entertainment. My only suggestion is to switch the high school to a power grid different then the one that Y2CJ41 uses. When he turns on his computer, it has been known to cause brown outs throughout the Midwest. (You had to be there to get that lame attempt at a joke)
ISWA's Pat Culp on recent COVID-19 cancellations
By Dane Fuelling
When sports started shutting down four weeks ago, one of the first casualties was the ISWA (Indiana State Wrestling Association) Folkstyle State tournament, which was due to be held at Warren Central. While the decision came as a surprise at the time, it was certainly the right one. One must look at the losses suffered by township schools in Marion County in the last month to realize that the virus would have been spread at WC and sent back to every corner of the Hoosier State had the tournament gone on.
ISWA President Pat Culp says her organization and the greater USA Wrestling body, have canceled all events up to May 10th at the local and national level.
As President, Culp participates in weekly video conferences with the CEO and president of USAW, along with all the state chairs.
“USA Wrestling has developed a COVID-19 committee,” said Culp Wednesday morning, “that tries to stay on top of any and all developments regarding what is happening nationally. In addition, they try to determine what is happening state by state. All states are required to inform USAW each time there is a change in our ‘stay at home’ policy, school cancellations, etc.”
The challenge for the ISWA has been a set of circumstances that seem to change daily.
“We saw this when trying to host Folkstyle State in the second weekend in March. Our venue, which was a school, informed us on Tuesday that they would not be allowed to host the event, which was a three-day event scheduled to start that Friday. We had to scramble to find a new venue.”
The Columbia City resident, whose son Blane is the head wrestling coach at CCHS, said that her team quickly contacted USAW and asked if they were allowed to still host the event.
“The people at USAW informed us we could until the state of Indiana told us no. So we found a new venue. However, 24 hours later, USA Wrestling put out a statement stating they were recommending postponing all events until further notice. That’s how fast everything changed.”
At the time of printing, Culp was preparing for another conference call to discuss the upcoming Central Regionals, scheduled to be held at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on May 15, 16, and 17.
The ISWA will also be hosting the 14U national duals in Franklin in the middle of June, pending conditions of the pandemic.
“It has been a very trying situation for all sports. Our main objective is to keep the kids safe, along with spectators, officials, coaches, etc. The ISWA would like to be able to have wrestling open back up this summer, if allowed, and with precautionary measures. In the meantime, we are posting daily workouts to keep the kids involved and in shape.”
Pat Culp took over as ISWA President in the fall and has been part of the organization since 1992 in one form or another.
Team Rankings as of Results posted 12/14/08
Team Rankings as of Results posted 12.14.2008
2. Evansville Mater Dei
3. Crown Point
5. Perry Meridian
9. Evansville Reitz
11. Lawrence North
14. New Palestine
16. Elkhart Memorial
18. Carroll (FW)
Projected Team State Participants
1. Crown Point
6. Perry Meridian
7. New Palestine
8. Ev. Mater Dei
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Pound For Pound 12/15/2008
IndianaMat.com Pound for Pound Rankings 12/15/2008
1. Cashe Quiroga
2. Josh Harper
3. Sean McMurray
4. Eric Roach
5. Jason Tsirtsis
6. Steven Sandefer
7. Brandon Wright
8. Marcus Shrewsbury
9. Camden Eppert
10. Taylor March
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Wrestler of the Week 12/8 - 12/13/2008
Lawrence North Senior
During the Chris Traicoff Memorial Tournament, Quiroga was 5-0 including victories over defending state champion and national cadet champion Brandon Wright of Cathedral and now #2 ranked freshman Jason Tsirtsis from Crown Point.Â Quiroga, defending 119 state champion, is currently ranked 1st at 125 by IndianaMat and is nationally ranked 22nd by Wrestling USA Magazine.Â Quiroga has logged wins this season against 3 time state placer Camden Eppert of Anderson Highland and 2 time state qualifier D'Marcus Spencer from Pike and will attend Purdue University next year.
Fort Wayne SS -Â 140 pound junior Ryan Stahl from Elkhart Memorial.Â Stahl was 5-0 at the Jim Nicholson Invitational defeating state placer Trace Hall of South Bend Riley.
Evansville SS -Â 103 pound freshman Alonzo Shepherd from Jeffersonville.Â Shepherd was 5-0 at Castle while beating ranked wrestlers from Evansville Mater Dei and Bloomington South.
Merrillville SS - 112 pound junior Anthony Hawkins from Crown Point was undefeated at the Chris Traicoff Memorial including victories over state placers Brandon Nelson of Lawrence North and Paul Beck of Mishawaka
From the edge of the mat (12/16)......
It's your faithful narrator Dingo with the weekly recap of Indiana's finest athletes.
Let's start with one of my favorite wrestlers of the past decade, Alex Dolly, formerly of Mishawaka High School. As reported this past week, Dolly was granted another year of eligibility, due to an injury plagued 2005-2006 season.
Alex has had a great collegiate career already, following an excellent high school career that saw him lose only twice during his entire junior and senior season. As a junior, Dolly lost a one point match to eventual state champ, senior Chris Cooper of Whiteland, en route to a strong 3rd place finish. He placedÂ 2nd as a senior, losing on a rideout in double OT to four-time state champ Blake Maurer of Evansville Mater Dei.Â That match stands out in many people's minds as one of the best at the state finals in recent memory. For what it's worth, he also finished 5th as a sophomore, starting a trend that would follow him the rest of his HS postseason career--he lost a one point match, this time to state runner-up, senior Mike McCarthy of Mt. Vernon. Three one point losses, two to dominant champions and one to a runner-up, which brings us to Dolly's collegiate career.....
Following a redshirt season, Alex qualified for Nationals despite a sub .500 record, and he quickly made a mark on the national wrestling scene. He beat 2X All-American and eventual national champion Shane Webster of Oregon, ultimately falling short of All-American status as a freshman by just one match.
Dolly's second active season was basically washed away by injuries, but he won 21 matches as a junior and qualified for Nationals again.
Last season, a season which many thought would be his last at Northern Iowa, Dolly again qualified for Nationals after a successful regular season. He again fell just short of obtaining All-American status, losing in the Round of 12.
All of this brings us back to the original point--although he's rusty and not ready to go right this second, according to Coach Penrith, Alex gets another chance to finally get over the hump and get the national recognition he truly deserves. All Indiana wrestling fans will be cheering Alex on as he gets back on the mat this season.
In Juggernaut-related news, Andrew Howe got back in action after an uneven but impressive performance at Cliff Keen. Howe bested Northern Iowa junior Tyson Reiner 3-2. Reiner was a Nationals qualifier last year and won a match in the big tourney. There will be no Juggernaut sightings until the Midlands.
Alex Tsirtsis followed up his stirring win over then #1 ranked Nick Gallick with a dominant 14-2 shellacking of promising young Northern Iowa wresler Trenton Washington. As with Howe, Tsirtsis won't be back in action until the Midlands.
Still no Angel Escobedo so far this season. Angel, Kinser, Hernandez, Young and company will join Howe and Tsirtsis at the Midlands. The Midlands should be a riveting couple of days for Indiana wrestling fans.
Casey Caldwell (Union County HS) of the Naval Academy placed fourth at 184 at the Nittany Lion Open. Casey has shown that he can hang with the better wrestlers at his weight class and will be a darkhorse candidate this year at Nationals.
In closing, the following former Indiana high school wrestlers are ranked:
125 #2 Angel Escobedo IU
133 #9 Reece Humphrey OSU
141 #1 Alex Tsirtsis Iowa
157 #13 Kurt Kinser IU
165 #9 Andrew Howe Wisc
125 #1 Escobedo
133 #10 Humphrey
141 #1 Tsirtsis
157 #11 KinserÂ IU
125 #1 Escobedo
133 #8 Humphrey
141 #1 Tsirtsis
141 #13 Hernandez
157 #12 Kinser
165 #15 Andrew Howe Wisc
125 #1 Escobedo
133 #9 Humphrey
141 #2 Tsirtsis
157 #16 Kinser
Toe to Joe with Cashe Quiroga
This week's Toe to Joe is with Lawrence North's Cashe Quiroga.Â Cashe is coming off a really good weekend where he beat last year's 112lb state champion Brandon Wright and freshman phenom Jason Tsirtsis, among other top wrestlers in the state at the Chris Traicoff Memorial. Last year Quiroga won a state championship at 119lbs and is looking to win another one this season at 125lbs.Â He has committed to wrestle at Purdue University next year.
1. How did you get started wrestling and how many years have you been wrestling?
My older brother went out for our middle school team and so I followed. I have been wrestling since the 6th grade, so this is my 7th year.
2. What other interests/hobbies/sports do you participate in outside of wrestling?
I do a lot outdoors, mainly camping and fishing.
3. Who is the toughest wrestler you have faced and why?
Josh Harper has probably been the toughest for me. I have lost to him 4 times and he has given me a loss every year so far in high school.
He is very good at some of the things I struggle with. He is a great scrambler, which is probably my weakness. That is one of the reasons I like to wrestle him because it is making me better at something I need to improve on.
4. How do you feel about spring and summer wrestling?
Training year-round has been huge for me. I think if you want to compete for state championships, you have to wrestle in the spring and summer. I have made big jumps in technique and experience because of spring and summer wrestling.
5. Describe what it was like to win your first title last year after coming up short as a sophomore.
I was obviously very happy to accomplish one of my goals and dominate the way that I did. I had put the loss from the year before out of my mind. But more than anything, I felt good about the way I had trained and competed. It was very satisfying.
6. What is the most memorable match you have wrestled and why?
One that is fresh in my mind was my over time match with Dâ€™Marcus Spencer this year. We are friends and he used to be my teammate and practice partner here at LN. I was down by 3 with 17 seconds left and had to take him down, cut him, and take him down again to send it to over time. It was a good win.
7. How do you feel about class wrestling?
I havenâ€™t really thought about it. But I like knowing I was the best 119lber. in the state last year.
8. Who is the most influential person in your life? Why?
My coaches here at LN have probably made the biggest impact on me. They have made me one of the best wrestlers in the state, helped me learn how to be a good student, and shown me how to be a good person.
9. Do you have any superstitions or routines when it comes to wrestling?
I am not superstitious. But, I always listen to Metallica on my IPod before I wrestle.
10. What makes wrestling so great?
I like that how well you do is determined by how hard you work. Also, in other sports, they just go to practice and go home and forget about it. With wrestling, you are constantly reminded of what you are going through. Your body hurts, youâ€™re hungry. You are doing things that most people are not willing to do.
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