By JEREMY HINES
After five years of watching others compete in Indiana’s wrestling state tournament, Purdue Polytechnic will finally get its chance to participate.
Polytechnic started six years ago but this is the first year the school is fully sanctioned to compete in the Indiana High School Athletic Association tournaments.
The Techies are hoping to find quick success on the mat this season.
“This year we have some kids that we think will do pretty well in the state tourney,” Polytechnic coach Cory Graham said. “We want to get into team state and eventually work toward a team state title.”
The school has just over 500 students. The wrestling team has 42 grapplers and fills every weight class.
“If you look at most high schools, the kids come from the same location,” Graham said. “Here we have kids traveling from all over the Indianapolis area. We have kids from Greenwood, the west side and all over the city. We are a very diverse school, but we come together and work toward a common goal.”
Although there are a good number of wrestlers on the team, the Techies are very inexperienced on the mats compared to other schools they will compete with.
“We started with 16 kids when we started the program,” Graham said. “We’ve grown every year. I only have a couple of kids that come with some decent experience. We started a middle school program, but we only have six kids that have come up from that.”
Currently the Techies have 22 freshmen and 12 sophomores on the team. They have just four seniors, two male and two female.
“I’m excited about that,” Graham said. “This is a great opportunity for these kids to get experience and learn.”
The only ranked wrestler in the program currently is sophomore Silas Foster. Foster is ranked No. 18 at 138 pounds.
“My personal goal is to get a state title,” Foster said. “I want to wrap up our schools first state championship and then I want to go out and get two more in my junior and senior seasons.”
Foster has gone to the New Castle semistate as a spectator several times. He has witnessed the emotion of the ticket-round matches and the thrill of the champions being crowned.
There are seven female wrestlers on the Techie squad. Seniors Katelynn Hernandez is ranked No. 3 in the girls’ polls at 132 pounds. Her senior classmate, Carmen Castillo, is ranked No. 10 at 182.
“I’ve had three girls that have been runners-up in the girls state tournament,” Graham said. “I’ve had six placers at girls state. We have four kids wrestling in college right now.”
On the boys side, senior 152-pounder Canaan Miller is the team’s leader.
“In the room he’s really vocal and he works well with the young guys,” Graham said. “He has wrestled all four years for us. He’s pretty tough. We bumped him up against Daleville to wrestle the NO. 9-ranked kid at 160 and he wrestled him pretty well. He’ll scrap with anyone in the state.”
Although the wrestlers on the team come from all different parts of the Indy area, they have been able to bond.
“We’re a very positive, upbeat team,” Graham said. “All the kids are super funny. They cool part of this team is that a lot of them played football together and they have like a brotherhood mentality. We are really close. It’s like a family but we can flip the switch when it comes time to practice and compete.”
The Techies are hoping to build on whatever success they have this year, and in the near future they are hoping to become a strong wrestling program with multiple accolades.
“It has been a long process to go through to become sanctioned by the IHSAA,” Graham said. “After fighting the battle for five years, we finally got in. A lot of our kids didn’t understand how the tournament even worked, especially my new kids. They are excited to be a part of this and to learn from it.”