By JEREMY HINES
The only thing that matters on the wrestling mat to John Purdy is the result. He’s not going to showboat and he’s not going to celebrate. He’s going to step on the mat, do everything he can to defeat the man standing across from him, and then go on with his day.
He doesn’t get emotional after a big win and doesn’t revel in a heartbreaking defeat. There’s always that next match – the next opportunity to prove himself. That’s what he looks forward to.
“John doesn’t get real hyped,” longtime Castle coach Bob Harmon said. “He doesn’t celebrate. He goes out, does his job and handles himself well. He doesn’t’ get emotional.”
Purdy had a strong start to his high school career. As a freshman he won the Castle sectional at 160 pounds, then placed third in regional to qualify for the Evansville semistate. Purdy was the only freshman in the weight class at semistate. He won his first-round matchup before falling to Brownsburg senior Petyon Asberry in the ticket round. He finished his freshman campaign with a 37-4 record.
“I got caught in that match,” Purdy said. “I shot and I just didn’t finish it. It was a learning experience. I knew I was going to learn from it and use that experience to prepare for the next season.”
That preparation worked. Last year, as a sophomore, Purdy punched his ticket to state. He won both sectional and regional in the 170-pound class. At semistate he finished second behind Columbus East senior Samuel Morrill.
Purdy finished fifth in the weight class at state. Morrill was the runner-up behind East Central’s Bryer Hall.
“Winning in that ticket round of semistate was sort of getting the monkey off of my back,” Purdy said. “But I had bigger dreams than just getting to state. I want to win state. The goal is to be a state champion. So, after I finished fifth at state, I went back to work.”
Purdy wrestles with the Maurer Coughlin Wrestling club in the offseason.
Currently, he is the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the state at 195 pounds, behind Evansville Mater Dei’s Gabe Sellers. The two could potentially meet up in the same Evansville North Regional this season.
“John is a good wrestler,” Harmon said. “He’s real technical. He’s strong and he’s athletic. Getting back to state is the goal, but that’s always a big challenge. Number one, you have to get back there. It’s important to go in and win each leg of the tournament. The state tournament is designed for champions, so if you can go in as a semistate champ, that really helps you.”
In addition to wrestling, Purdy also excels on the gridiron. He is the starting middle linebacker on the Castle football squad that finished the season with a 7-3 mark. Harmon coached Purdy in middle school football and knows how his athleticism is valuable on the football field.
“He was my quarterback and running back in middle school,” Harmon said. “Now he’s a force on the field on Friday nights. You hear his name called quite a bit.”
Purdy has competed in baseball, track, lacrosse and even basketball over the years. He has found that his two passions are wrestling and football.
“I like whatever one is in season,” Purdy said. “I think I do pretty well at both.”
Castle’s season will open on Saturday. Purdy is eager to start his junior campaign.
“I think we have a pretty good team,” Purdy said.
Purdy enjoys typical high school activities outside of sports. He likes hanging out with friends and family, listening to music and working out.
“John is a good kid,” Harmon said. “He’s a good student and he’s real personable. He’s just an all-around good kid. He’s not afraid of hard work and he’s willing to put the time in to get better.”