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  • Y2CJ41

    IndianaMat Awarded National Website of the Year

    Back in early December of 2008 three guys conjured up an idea to give Indiana a website dedicated to the sport of wrestling. Looking around other states we saw what could be and knew Indiana fans would absolutely love a similar website. We had no clue where the adventure would take us, but as they said in the Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come.


    Eric McGill and Chad Hollenbaugh were telling me to pull the trigger, I balked at it. I said it would be too much time and effort. They pestered me into submission. Eric, even while going to college in New York, said he’d do the rankings. Chad said he’d write articles on events he attended. Others joined up with us within in the next few days.


    We quickly added people to our “staff” that volunteered their time. Dane Fuelling was on top of the team rankings, while we had guys like Zach Pierson, Mike Reiser, and Dustin Bentz handle semi-state rankings. I also extended the olive branch of peace with longtime messageboard rival Dingo Brigade aka Cameron Drury to write some articles.


    The first big time exposure was at the Triacoff that year. Chad Hollenbaugh made up some lineup cards with almost every team’s projected line-up with their IndianaMat rankings. These cards were a hit as they ran out of them twice during the event. Even more importantly it got IndianaMat a lot of exposure in da region and across the state.


    Chad came up with the 800lb Gorilla slogan, saying that no one can stop an 800lb Gorilla and he was spot on with that. We received some backlash from groups of people, people with a lot influence within the state. We kept plugging along, even while others thought we’d be a flash in the pan. We kept doing what we thought was right and soon those doubters became supporters.


    We have changed up the look of the website many times with our biggest and best change coming in 2014 when we did a total redesign to incorporate wrestler and team profiles along with many other unique features. Go ahead and find a website with those types of features and you will come up empty handed. These types of features along with an extremely dedicated staff and loyal supporters have made this website the best in the country. What we have here in Indiana is very unique and it amazes me it has been eight years this December. Think about that, incoming freshmen were in first grade, seniors were in 4th grade. That means most of the wrestling community ONLY knows IndianaMat!


    This past weekend at the Olympic Trials we were recognized as the National Wrestling Media Association’s Website of the Year. Being recognized by our peers as we were this past weekend was very humbling. Hearing things said about our website and talking to others opened my eyes to what we have done not only on a state level, but a national level. It really makes the work, the long hours, the trials and tribulations worth it when you hear the things we did this weekend.


    There are many thanks that need to go out and I hope I don’t miss anyone. The first big thanks goes to my wonderful wife and family. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to leave for a weekend in Pittsburgh, Iowa City, Fargo, or wherever I decide to go. Without that support and understanding this website would only be a fraction of what it is today. The next time you see her tell her thanks as she is as big of a part of the success of this website as anyone.


    Second in line is Chad Hollenbaugh. He’s the type that will take little to no credit, but about 90% of the ideas we have for the site come from him. His articles are top notch and you can always sense the educator in him when he adds the closest river or town nickname to his articles. He is a behind the scenes type of guy, but his impact on this website is undeniable.


    Eric McGill, while he has stepped aside, is still one of the biggest influences on the website. He took on the rankings task from the beginning while being at an Ivy League school over 500 miles from Indiana. The task of doing rankings is an immense undertaking especially from scratch. Eric is still one that has great ideas and offers advice on the future of this website. He did an outstanding job on the rankings and set the standard for Mike when he took over.


    Since the beginning of the website Mike Reiser did the Merrillville Semi State rankings. A few years ago he added to his list of tasks the statewide rankings. I didn’t know what to expect, Eric did an outstanding job and following him was not going to be easy. Mike has hit a home run with the rankings since he has taken over. The accuracy of his rankings is mind boggling and his knowledge of kids throughout the state borders on being insane. One of my favorite stories is from last year when I was at an event and I texted Mike, “hey this kid should probably be ranked, probably 14-16 area.” He replies, “he is ranked 14th.” Mike has not only done an outstanding job on the rankings, he has become one of my closest friends and I am very appreciative of all his work.


    There are many, many others that deserve credit for the success of this website. Dane Fuelling has done a stand up job with the team rankings. His knowledge of the top 30 teams in the state and their lineups is beyond comprehension. His rankings are up to the minute and have been an outstanding contribution to the site. Dustin Bentz has been with us from the beginning as the dirty south rankings guy. Add to that his awesome semi state preview that combines his wit and wisdom with his knowledge of the southern hemisphere of the state. Zach Pierson started as our New Castle rankings guy and did a great job until he moved out of state. He passed on the job to Howard Cottey and he has stepped in nicely the past two years. Zach has one of the best lines from doing rankings I have ever heard. He said, “don’t worry about getting them right, if they are wrong someone will tell you!”


    Our rankings are awesome, but what I think sets us apart from the other sites is our articles. Cameron Drury’s articles are top notch. He can make the most boring match sound like an epic match between two titans. On top of that his articles have a feeling of genuine love and respect for all the athletes on the mat. We have also added two weekly features over the past couple years. Jeremy Hines came to me asking about doing a weekly article. It didn’t take long for him to start churning them out. This past season we also added another talented writer to the staff in Steve Krah. He has over 30 years of experience in the business and his articles are of the highest quality. All three of those guys have talents I only wish I had and their efforts are greatly appreciated.


    One thing I know that has put us over the top is our top notch photography. Whenever I upload pictures to Facebook I prepare myself for hundreds upon hundreds of notifications. Paul Tincher is a very talented photographer and has helped tremendously to get us to the highest level. I know the kids, parents, coaches, and others absolutely adore his photos. It makes it a lot easier for us to get photos for our magazine or any other graphic we need when we have as many great photos to choose from as we do.


    There are many behind the scenes things that go on with the website that most do not realize. We have two other computer nerds that have helped keep the site online and running. Nick Weisjahn and Andy Oberlin have been very helpful especially since we converted to the new site. They have an immense knowledge that have helped keep the site up to date and as good as possible.


    Lastly, we wouldn’t be where we are without our fans and supporters. You are the ones that make this site so great. Many of you have contributed rankings information, results, posts on the forums, amongst other things. Without that support we do not have the presence we do. Whether you agree with class wrestling or not, you can’t disagree that our state has some of the most passionate fans in the country. Thank you for all your support as this award was something that is for the whole state of Indiana.


    Here is the award presentation and acceptance speech. Note I do a lot better with a keyboard.

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