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    #WrestlingWednesday with Jeremy Hines: Thornton ready for another trip to state




    Columbus North junior Justice Thornton is a patient person. In his view, patience is a key to success.


    Thornton uses his patience when competing against his family in his favorite board game, Monopoly. He learns what his opponents are trying to do, then he figures out a way to counter their strategy. He’s got a pretty good success rate against his older brother and his two sisters.


    But Thornton is not just patient on family game night. He uses the same approach on the wrestling mat where he is a three-time Conference Indiana champion as well as three time sectional and regional champion.


    “Monopoly is a game about thinking,” Thornton said. “You have to figure out how you’re going to play. It really correlates to wrestling. In wrestling, you have to figure out what your opponent does and you have to use that against them.”


    According to Columbus North coach Matt Joyce, Thornton uses his smarts to be successful on the mat.


    “He is extremely competitive, in a good way,” Joyce said. “He really enjoys wrestling. He’s a really smart wrestler. He knows where he can wrestle well. He’s really broadened his technique too as he’s gotten older.”


    Thornton agrees.


    “There are some wrestlers that are really fast and athletic,” he said. “There are some guys that are just absolute powerhouses. I like to think my strength is in my technique. I’m not the fastest or the strongest, but I win with technique.


    Justice qualified for state last year. He did not advance past the Friday night round. This year he’s hoping to change that. He has his sights set on standing on top of the podium.


    Last season Justice was wrestling in semistate against Brady Ison. It was a close match. Ison went for a front headlock and it ended up causing Justice to black out for 30 seconds. He then had to injury default to fourth place.


    “We had to take Justice to the hospital to get checked out,” Joyce said. “He was OK, but that set him up for a tough Friday night, drawing a No. 1 semistate champ in the first round. This year he’s going out there and trying to take care of business.”


    Thornton is one of nine Columbus North wrestlers competing in the Evansville semistate Saturday. Thornton, Cohen Long and Asher Ratliff all enter the competition as regional champions. Thornton is currently 31-1 on the year at 138 pounds. Long, a freshman, is 28-8 at 132 and Ratliff, a sophomore, is ranked No. 9 at 157 with a 35-2 record.


    “Asher is the starting quarterback for the football team and just broke the school’s single season take-down record,” Joyce said.


    Nolan Riley, Josiah Green, Luke Spurgeon, Evan Saevre, Keller DeSpain and Jose Ramirez will also be competing at the semistate for Columbus North.


    Last season Thornton was the lone Bulldog to advance to state.


    “I really hope I have some teammates with me this year,” Thornton said. “Asher has a decent draw for semistate. Cohen wrestles a kid he lost to earlier in the season but we’re going to help him prepare for that. Luke is someone I practice with a lot. I hope some of these guys have a great day Saturday.”


    As for his own goal, Thornton isn’t satisfied with just making it to state.


    “My goal is to win the ticket round on Saturday,” he said. “Then I want to go into that championship match. It will be close, but hopefully I can get my hand raised there. Then I’ll go ahead and win on Friday night of the state finals and then on Saturday I want to be the one standing on top of the podium when it’s all over.”

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