By STEVE KRAH
Delta High School has a history of wrestling success.
The Eagles have piled up victories and titles over the years.
From 1980-81 to 1984-85, Delta won five straight IHSAA team championships.
There have also been eight semistates, 15 regionals, 19 sectionals,12 conference titles and numerous champions and state placers.
Cody LeCount is in his second season as Eagles head coach in 2022-23 and working to keep Delta among the elite programs in Indiana.
LeCount is a 2014 graduate of Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis where he went 184-2 and was a two-time IHSAA state champion (2013 at 132 pounds and 2014 at 145) and one-time state runner-up (2012 at 126). He was the Indianapolis Star’s Wrestler of the Year in 2014.
He grappled for two years at Central Michigan University and spent two years at Marian University in Indianapolis.
LeCount began his coaching career as an assistant for three years at Carmel High School before moving to Delta, where he is also a special education teacher.
He got to work with Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Tonte as well as Matt Schoettle at Perry Meridian, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Michigan Chapter member Tom Borelli at Central Michigan, IHSWCA Hall of Famer Steven Bradley at Marian and IHSWCA Hall of Famer Ed Pendoski at Carmel.
“Growing up around wrestling my whole life I’ve been around really, really good coaches,” says LeCount, who competed for . “I’ve learned a lot of things from a coaching standpoint on how to train, how to get in shape and get through the grinding season.”
In LeCount’s first season at Delta, the Eagles went 14-5, won a sectional title and were Class 2A IHSWCA State Duals qualifiers. The only senior on that team was Dillon Tuttle (who placed eight at the state meet at 138).
So far in 2021-22, Delta is 7-0 and has outscored foes 475-78. The Eagles beat Tri, Lapel, Alexandria-Monroe, Frankton and Greenfield-Central at the Rex Leavitt Elwood Invitational Nov. 19 and earned dual wins against Muncie Central Nov. 29 and South Adams Dec. 1.
Seven individuals are 7-0. Five are state-ranked — Ayden Bollinger (Class of 2025) No. 3 at 106), Neal Mosier (Class of 2024) No. 7 at 120, Braxton Russell (Class of 2024) No. 13 at 170, Kolten Rhone’s (Class of 2024) No. 14 at 145 and Kaeb Stebbins (Class of 2025) No. 16 at 152.
On a roster of 31, there are four seniors with two in the varsity lineup — Garrett Clay (160) and Heath Sprague (195).
Borrowing from a locker room speech give by Susquehanna Township (Pa.) High School football coach Joe Headen, LeCount and his assistants — Austin Crouch, Jacob Gray (No. 3 on Delta’s all-time win list and a state champion at 182 in 2017), David Locke (No. 7 on the win list and a state champion at 145 in 1984) and Keith Rhonemus — have Delta wrestlers learning how to “hold the rope.”
“When we’re the climbing the mountain everybody’s got to hold on to that rope,” says LeCount.
“If one guy slips he might make everybody else fall. It’s our job to hold on to the rope and it’s also our job to help everybody else stay on the rope.”
It’s about teamwork and accountability.
“If I do my job, everybody else can continue to do their job,” says LeCount. “Don’t let that guy slack off in practice. Don’t let this guy give up an extra two points in a dual meet.
“These kids have bought into that kind of system.”
LeCount has gotten his athletes to “do everything to their full potential and just trust the process.”
“If they do everything right they can get to where they want to be,” says LeCount. “They know that there are days when they’re going to be really tired. There are going to be days that are really hard. They might lose a match. They might win a big match.
“It’s knowing the ups and downs of the season, how to train and compete and just love each other.”
High school wrestling presents the opportunity to compete in an individual sport in a group setting.
“Wrestling is 1 v 1 out there,” says LeCount. “You mess up it’s one you. The team aspect of things makes it even greater.
“I might be biased, but it’s the greatest sport there is. There’s nothing else out there like it. It makes you have to depend on yourself to win your match and help your team.”
So many wrestlers come off the mat after a loss in a six-minute match in tears because they gave it their all.
And it’s as much mental as physical.
“That internal drive, mental toughness and voice in your head, it all has to come from within,” says LeCount. “You can always do so much more than what your mind’s telling you.”
2A No. 2 Delta goes to Jay County Tuesday, Dec. 6 for a double-dual. The Eagles grappled with Winchester at 6 p.m., followed by 2A No. 1 Jay County. Yorktown will also wrestle Winchester.
Delta goes to Class 2A IHSWCA State Duals at Jay County Jan. 7. The Hoosier Heritage Conference at Pendleton Heights meet is Jan. 14. Then comes the IHSAA state tournament series — Delta Sectional Jan. 28, Jay County Regional Feb. 4, Fort Wayne Semistate Feb. 11 and State Finals Feb. 17-18 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.