By STEVE KRAH
Jorden Douglass wears the singlet of the Red Ramblers of Attica Junior/Senior High School. So its fitting that this standout wrestler has done plenty of traveling to improve his skills.
After becoming his school’s first IHSAA State Finals qualifier in 2018, Douglass hit the road again to find wrestlers and coaches that could make him better. Last summer, he made the trek to Avon to work out at Chad Red’s Red Cobra Wrestling Academy. He also competed with the Indiana Flash, led by Wheeler High School coaches Jose Diaz and Yusef Mohmed. He’s gone with the Outlaws in Virginia Beach, Va.
Douglass has trained with Warren Central’s Brice Coleman and Antwaun Graves. He has worked out at clubs and in wrestling rooms all around Indiana and competed all over the Midwest. Since he was about 8, parents Dan and Tamara Douglass has supported his dedication to the mat sport.
“My parents pay a lot of money for me to do that sorts of stuff,” says Douglass, now a 145-pound junior who takes a 36-0 record into the East Chicago Semistate on Saturday, Feb. 9. “I always want to improve.”
“I don’t want to feel like I plateau.”
Dan Douglass wrestled at Clinton Central High School, graduating in 1987. Greg Moe was head coach of the Bulldogs when he was in elementary and junior high. Dan Callahan was his high school coach. He has watched his youngest son put in the mat time.
“Jorden has worked hard,” says Dan Douglass. “He’s never satisfied where he was at. He’s tried to make himself better each year.”
While his older brothers wrestled some before concentrating on baseball (Jacob, a member of Western Hugh School’s state runner-up in 2016, plays at Trine University and Joe, an all-stater at Clinton Central, played one season at Trine), Jorden made the mat his sport.
“He loves the discipline,” says Dan Douglass. “And that does not have to rely on anybody else for his success.”
Ryleigh Douglass, an eighth grader, looks forward to being a wrestling manager at Attica with his brother on the team.
Dan Douglass was an assistant to Dean Branstetter at Clinton Central and is now on Branstetter’s Attica coaching staff along with Josh Barnett, Blair Brindle and Jay Hodge.
Branstetter, a 1983 graduate of South Adams High School, where his wrestling coach was Steve Tatman, was head coach at Clinton Central 1988-2001. He spent one season at Mona Shores High School near Muskegon, Mich., then started the wrestling program at Marmion Academy in Aurora, Ill., and guided the Cadets for a decade before returning to Indiana at Attica in 2012.
“He’s gotten a lot better on his feet,” says seventh-year Ramblers coach Branstetter of Jorden Douglass. “He was always good on-top. He can control and shorten a match on top.”
Jorden Douglass looks to strengthen his weak areas.
He was not very good from the bottom and his coaches avoided choosing that position for him. He has worked to make himself better there. It also helps when you don’t get put in that position too often.
Douglass has not yielded a takedown so far during the 2018-19 season.
“I like to push the pace,” says Douglass. “I try not to leave the opportunity (for my opponent) to get (a takedown) before I do.”
Branstetter echoes that point.
“If you get taken down and the kid is a hammer on top, it’s going to be hard to win,” says Branstetter.
Douglass took the 2019 Lafayette Jeff Sectional and Logansport Regional titles with six first-period pins.
“During tournament time, if the opportunity is there for the pin, I go for the pin,” says Douglass. “There’s no reason to make a mistake and go on my back.”
The program and, consequently, Douglass have benefitted from a team schedule that has included the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association State Duals (the team placed 10th in Class 1A in January. It was the third appearance for the Ramblers in four years).
Attica has 199 students and 15 of those are on the wrestling team.
“It’s a hard sport,” says Branstetter. “Practices are tough and they have to be watching their weight.
“The State Duals have been really neat for us.”
There was also a two-day New Year’s Challenge in Danville, Ill. There, Douglass faced off with ranked grapplers from Illinois and Wisconsin. This season was the second that the Ramblers have taken the same postseason path. When Douglass was a freshman, Attica went through the Crawfordsville Sectional, North Montgomery Regional and New Castle Semistate.
As a 132-pound freshman in 2017, Douglass won sectional and regional crowns and lost to eventual semistate champion Breyden Bailey of Indianapolis Cathedral in the “ticket round” at New Castle. As a 145-pound sophomore, he earned sectional and regional titles, placed second at semistate then lost by technical fall in the first round at the State Finals to eventual third-place finishers Jake Schoenegge of Columbus East.
The level has been raised in the Rambler practice room this season with nine wrestlers qualifying for regional and seven others making it to semistate along with Douglass — junior Jack Hargan (first at 195), junior Avery Miller (second at 106), senior Koaldon Kerr (second at 160), junior Jordan Hodge (third at 120), senior Jacob Demumbrun (third at 195), junior Johnny Synesael (fourth at 160) and senior Hunter Purple (fourth at 152).
Douglass says he would like to wrestle in college and study to become a conservation officer with a degree in criminal justice. While the Douglass family has about three acres at home, they like to hunt on property owned by good friends in Parke County.
But his current focus is on what’s in front of him and that’s the East Chicago Semistate and a chance to be Attica’s first two-time state qualifier.