By JEREMY HINES
When it’s time to step on the mat “Flip” flips the switch and goes to work. When the match is done, he flips back to being one of the nicest guys around.
Sure, Indianapolis Lutheran junior Hayden Filipovich got his nickname, in part, because of his last name. But those who know the 182-pounder best knows he can turn into a monster when he’s wrestling.
“We call him Flip,” Lutheran coach Greg Hughes said. “He certainly flips the switch on the mat. He is one of those magical kids that can go toe-to-toe with anyone. He’s relentless. He’s fearless. But, as soon as the match is over, he’s a class act. He’s a great kid, a smart, personable kid and a great leader with an infectious personality.”
Filipovich is currently ranked No. 9 in the 182-pound class. Last year he advanced to the ticket round of the New Castle semistate before falling to J.D. Farrell of Fishers 5-2. That match has fueled Filipovich to push harder this year.
“He wishes he had that ticket round match back,” Hughes said. “It came down to who was going to have that edge. I think he approached that match differently than normal. We have really focused on treating every match the same this year – whether it be a big match or an insignificant one. We don’t want him holding it back and playing safe this year. Every match he needs to go in and just let it rip. This year he puts his foot on the line and goes. All year we’ve focused on this.”
Filipovich worked out all summer with that loss in mind.
“I made a lot of mistakes in the ticket round match,” he said. “I had a lot of nerves going. But, it motivated me to get better and push harder.”
Lutheran is one of the smallest schools in the state. There are just at 250 students in the high school, and about half of those are male. Still, the wrestling team has 15 guys this season. They still struggle to fill a roster and, being in Marion County, they wrestle elite programs like Perry Meridian, Cathedral and Warren Central.
The school didn’t even have a wrestling program until Hughes started it five years ago.
“I always loved the sport of wrestling,” Hughes said. “Then God blessed me with three sons. We were looking at options for high school. Lutheran really stood out as our best choice, but they didn’t have a wrestling program. I told the school that I wanted to go there but we needed wrestling. They allowed me to start the program. Now, the kids on this team are like my sons on the mat. We have two state-ranked wrestlers. I keep saying we’re the No. 1 small school program in Marion County.
“After five years we have had some good accomplishments. It’s a true wrestling story. You win some and lose some, but we see how far we’ve come and how far we want to go.”
Leading the charge this season is Filipovich. The junior is used to success. He was the starting center and linebacker for the state runner-up football team and he has carried that winning attitude to the mat.
“One of my favorite stories about Flip happened about a year ago,” Hughes said. “I was pushing the kids pretty hard. We were running sprints at the end of a very tough practice. The kids were dragging. The sprints were slowing down. I told the kids to give me just two more. Then Flip pops up and says ‘That’s it? We need to do more. I have to be six-minute ready. Let’s go.’ He was pushing us to coach harder because he knew what he wanted to accomplish.”
Filipovich has lofty goals this season.
“Just like every other kid growing up wrestling in Indiana, I want to be a state champion,” he said. “It’s always been a dream of mine.”
Filipovich is undecided in what he wants to pursue in college. He’s leaning toward exercise science but admits he hasn’t made his mind up yet. Right now he’s focused on wrestling.