By STEVE KRAH
Munster High School wrestlers are taught about the 5 P’s — Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
“If you properly prepare for your stuff, you won’t be as nervous,” says Mustangs junior mat standout Chris Bohn. “You won’t perform badly.”
Bohn, 17, began wrestling as a second grader with Griffith Wrestling Club. He moved from Griffith to Munster in sixth grade.
Prior to high school, he got much of his training with Region Wrestling Academy.
Bohn is currently 82-6 for his career and 13-3 for 2022-23 at 138 pounds. He was 42-2 and a and IHSAA State Finals qualifier at 120 in 2021-22. As a freshman in 2020-21, he went 27-1 and qualified for semistate.
From all the time in the circle, Bohn knows many moves.
“I’ve got a decent-sized arsenal,” says Bohn. “I know a good amount of technique.
“I focus on a few things.”
Going from 120 to 138, Bohn knows he is meeting opponents this season who are stronger.
“I rely on speed a lot at 138,” says Bohn, who stands about 5-foot-10.
Fourth-year head coach Zach Slosser sees a fierce competitor and a smart athlete in Bohn.
“He wants to wrestle competition,” says Slosser. “He’s not going to run away from anybody.
“What makes him a good wrestler is his knowledge of the sport. He’s very knowledgable about positioning and all those fine details. He uses technique over strength. He’s a very smart kid.”
Bohn is carrying a weighted grade-point average above 3.6 and counts Advanced Placement Computer Science as his current favorite class.
“I’m good with computers,” says Bohn, who can see himself studying software engineering in college and would like to wrestle at the next level.
With 40 grapplers on the team, the Mustangs head into the post-Christmas part of their schedule at 11-5 overall and 2-0 in the Northwest Crossroads Conference.
“The team aspect (of wrestling) is very important because you need your teammates to help you, work out with you, motivate you and push you in practices,” says Bohn. “You can also have people hang out with and relate with.
“It’s an individual sport because you’re the only one (on the mat), but the team is a big part of it.”
Bohn’s primary drill partners are junior Joey Bartusiak (145) and senior Ezekiel Gomez (132).
“Joey’s fast and he’s a pretty hard worker,” says Bohn. “He doesn’t give up.
“Zeke is solid with technique. It’s usually a battle when we wrestle.”
Munster makes its first appearances in the Mooresville Holiday Classic Dec. 28-29.
“We plan to make some statements there and get some matches for everyone,” says Bohn.
His support system includes parents Christopher Sr., and Angelic.
During a tournament, Bohn spends time between his matches rooting for teammates and he also studies film. His father — a former high school wrestler — shoots video of all his son’s matches.
“I’ll watch my last match to see what I’ve done well, what’ve I’ve done wrong, what I can do better,” says Bohn.
While there is plenty of noise in the gym or arena and the headgear doesn’t make it any easier, Bohn manages to hear his coaches offering instruction from the corner.
“I know what they sound like,” says Bohn.
Munster has an NCC away dual against Lowell Jan. 5, the Lake County Tournament at Hanover Central Jan. 7, an NCC home dual against Hobart Jan. 7 and the NCC meet (with Andrean, Highland, Hobart, Kankakee Valley and Lowell) at Lowell Jan. 14.
The state tournament series includes the East Chicago Sectional (with East Chicago Central, Gary West Side, Hammond Bishop Noll, Hammond Central, Hammond Morton, Merrillville and Whiting) Jan. 28, Hobart Regional Feb. 4, East Chicago Semistate Feb. 11 and IHSAA State Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Feb. 17-18.
Moving through the Region at tournament time is tough.
“It’s hard competition no matter what,” says Slosser. “You’ve always got to be on your game.”
Slosser, who was an assistant to Mike Crary for four years before becoming head wrestling coach, also coaches football and is an administrative assistant in the Munster athletic office. He has worked hard to recruit athletes for high school, middle school and the Munster Wrestling Club.
“I’ve been working hard to try to make a program,” says Slosser. “Two years ago K through 12, we had 47 kids in the program. Now K through 12, we have 126.
“There were seven middle school wrestlers two years ago and that number has jumped to 45.”
Says Bohn, “It’s not me, but in the time I’ve been here I’ve seen the program grow a lot and it’s cool to see.”
A wrestling club was started at Munster when Slosser was 6, but it went away.
“I said you know what? — this program needs to keep back up and running,” says Slosser, 27. “We’re just a young program fighting to get back.”
Munster has won 11 sectional titles in program history. The last four came in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 when former Evansville Mater Dei wrestler Dan Gelarden was Mustangs head coach.
“(Gelarden) was a very intelligent coach,” says Slosser. “We had (the IHSAA team tournament) back then and he knew how to move the lineup the right way.”
Slosser dealt with injuries throughout his prep mat career and was a semistate qualifier as a junior.
He earned a Business Management degree from Calumet College of Saint Joseph’s in Whiting, Ind., in 2018.
Slosser’s coaching staff features two of his former coaches — Tim Maldonado and Bobby Joe Maldonado — plus Jeff Jorge, Steve Marks and Matt Gille. The middle school season was in the fall. That team was coached by Juan Lopez, Bobby Joe Maldonado and Markus Ciciora. Those men also help out at the high school level.
Slosser is pleased to see former Munster wrestlers who are now parents getting involved with the current Mustangs.
Bohn credits nutrition as a big part of his success. He estimates he takes in about 2,500 calories a day and burns off at least that many.
“I eat a lot of raspberries,” says Bohn. “I love raspberries. You can eat less calories and feel more energized. You just won’t feel like crap when you’re in your match.
“Normally I’m good about (eating) unless it’s a holiday. I don’t cut. I’m going eat good food. It would be rude not to, but that’s the only time I stray away from good nutrition.”