#MondayMatness with Steve Krah: With mantra of ‘hold the rope,’ Delta wrestlers keep on winning
By STEVE KRAH
Delta High School has a history of wrestling success.
The Eagles have piled up victories and titles over the years.
From 1980-81 to 1984-85, Delta won five straight IHSAA team championships.
There have also been eight semistates, 15 regionals, 19 sectionals,12 conference titles and numerous champions and state placers.
Cody LeCount is in his second season as Eagles head coach in 2022-23 and working to keep Delta among the elite programs in Indiana.
LeCount is a 2014 graduate of Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis where he went 184-2 and was a two-time IHSAA state champion (2013 at 132 pounds and 2014 at 145) and one-time state runner-up (2012 at 126). He was the Indianapolis Star’s Wrestler of the Year in 2014.
He grappled for two years at Central Michigan University and spent two years at Marian University in Indianapolis.
LeCount began his coaching career as an assistant for three years at Carmel High School before moving to Delta, where he is also a special education teacher.
He got to work with Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Tonte as well as Matt Schoettle at Perry Meridian, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Michigan Chapter member Tom Borelli at Central Michigan, IHSWCA Hall of Famer Steven Bradley at Marian and IHSWCA Hall of Famer Ed Pendoski at Carmel.
“Growing up around wrestling my whole life I’ve been around really, really good coaches,” says LeCount, who competed for . “I’ve learned a lot of things from a coaching standpoint on how to train, how to get in shape and get through the grinding season.”
In LeCount’s first season at Delta, the Eagles went 14-5, won a sectional title and were Class 2A IHSWCA State Duals qualifiers. The only senior on that team was Dillon Tuttle (who placed eight at the state meet at 138).
So far in 2021-22, Delta is 7-0 and has outscored foes 475-78. The Eagles beat Tri, Lapel, Alexandria-Monroe, Frankton and Greenfield-Central at the Rex Leavitt Elwood Invitational Nov. 19 and earned dual wins against Muncie Central Nov. 29 and South Adams Dec. 1.
Seven individuals are 7-0. Five are state-ranked — Ayden Bollinger (Class of 2025) No. 3 at 106), Neal Mosier (Class of 2024) No. 7 at 120, Braxton Russell (Class of 2024) No. 13 at 170, Kolten Rhone’s (Class of 2024) No. 14 at 145 and Kaeb Stebbins (Class of 2025) No. 16 at 152.
On a roster of 31, there are four seniors with two in the varsity lineup — Garrett Clay (160) and Heath Sprague (195).
Borrowing from a locker room speech give by Susquehanna Township (Pa.) High School football coach Joe Headen, LeCount and his assistants — Austin Crouch, Jacob Gray (No. 3 on Delta’s all-time win list and a state champion at 182 in 2017), David Locke (No. 7 on the win list and a state champion at 145 in 1984) and Keith Rhonemus — have Delta wrestlers learning how to “hold the rope.”
“When we’re the climbing the mountain everybody’s got to hold on to that rope,” says LeCount.
“If one guy slips he might make everybody else fall. It’s our job to hold on to the rope and it’s also our job to help everybody else stay on the rope.”
It’s about teamwork and accountability.
“If I do my job, everybody else can continue to do their job,” says LeCount. “Don’t let that guy slack off in practice. Don’t let this guy give up an extra two points in a dual meet.
“These kids have bought into that kind of system.”
LeCount has gotten his athletes to “do everything to their full potential and just trust the process.”
“If they do everything right they can get to where they want to be,” says LeCount. “They know that there are days when they’re going to be really tired. There are going to be days that are really hard. They might lose a match. They might win a big match.
“It’s knowing the ups and downs of the season, how to train and compete and just love each other.”
High school wrestling presents the opportunity to compete in an individual sport in a group setting.
“Wrestling is 1 v 1 out there,” says LeCount. “You mess up it’s one you. The team aspect of things makes it even greater.
“I might be biased, but it’s the greatest sport there is. There’s nothing else out there like it. It makes you have to depend on yourself to win your match and help your team.”
So many wrestlers come off the mat after a loss in a six-minute match in tears because they gave it their all.
And it’s as much mental as physical.
“That internal drive, mental toughness and voice in your head, it all has to come from within,” says LeCount. “You can always do so much more than what your mind’s telling you.”
2A No. 2 Delta goes to Jay County Tuesday, Dec. 6 for a double-dual. The Eagles grappled with Winchester at 6 p.m., followed by 2A No. 1 Jay County. Yorktown will also wrestle Winchester.
Delta goes to Class 2A IHSWCA State Duals at Jay County Jan. 7. The Hoosier Heritage Conference at Pendleton Heights meet is Jan. 14. Then comes the IHSAA state tournament series — Delta Sectional Jan. 28, Jay County Regional Feb. 4, Fort Wayne Semistate Feb. 11 and State Finals Feb. 17-18 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
#WrestlingWednesday with Jeremy Hines: Purdue Polytechnic ready for their first full season
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.”
IndianaMat Gorilla Radio Episode 140
Mike and Joe are back previewing a big week of wrestling along with recapping the past week's action.
College News645 4
Thanksgiving D1 Rundown
By Blaze Lowery
Is IU better than we thought?
Unranked Indiana defeats #23 Princeton, pushing the Tigers out of the rankings. Although Princeton was without #2 Pat Glory, the Hoosiers dominate them with a 22 – 13 upset. IU has continued to show improvement since last season’s dissatisfactory finish.
#19 D.J. Washington then goes on to wins Army’s, Black Knight Open at 174lbs, beating #21 Benjamin Pasiuk of Army. Keeping his undefeated record in-tact, the Portage native is proving himself week after week since shifting to a lower weight class this season. Longtime teammate, Jacob Moran was runner-up and the Rooks’ brothers both captured a third place wins for the Hoosiers. Indiana is starting their season off much stronger than they left off last season and could make some sparks as they roll into the Garden State Grapple on December 4th.
Are the Boilermaker Duals a good indication of Purdue’s success?
Coming off a surprising dual loss to Rider University on their home turf, Purdue turned their performance around and defeated Cleveland State, Northern Illinois, and Chattanooga at the Boilermaker Duals. Having a younger squad this season, the Boilermakers are struggling to make the same mark at the start of their season as they have in their previous season. At this point in their schedule, it is too early to say if the Boilermakers are a tough to beat dual team, but it is safe to say that the competition at the Boilermaker Duals tournament means little to none when competing in the Big Ten. We look for the Boilermakers to start ramping up as we get closer to the middle of the season.
With that being said, the future looks bright for Purdue wrestling as this young roster will make for some depth in the coming years and the recruiting class coming in will be one to keep an eye on. It is exciting to see guys like Macartney Parkinson, Jaden Reynolds, and Hayden Filipovich really getting their feet wet with some serious mat time. Time will tell if the Boilermakers can show us what is behind the curtains as they compete in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on December 2nd – 3rd.
Recent Out-of-State Wrestler D1 Results:
#3 Mason Parris (Michigan) wins by fall in both duals against UNC and Columbia.
#5 Brayton Lee (Minnesota) clinches Binghamton dual by major decision.
#6 Lucas Davison (Northwestern) with a dominant 6-0 decision in Virginia Dual.
#12 Jesse Mendez (Ohio State) pushes Joey Melendez out of the rankings with a pin.
#19 Silas Allred (Nebraska) wins Navy Classic.
#MondayMatness with Steve Krah: Brady relishes leadership role for Garrett Railroaders
By STEVE KRAH
A can’t-quit attitude has helped Hayden Brady amass impressive numbers as part of a decorated wrestling program at Garrett High School.
With a 9-1 start to the 2022-23 season at Goshen’s RedHawk Super Duals, 5-foot-10 1/2, 126-pound senior Brady is now 102-17 for his career (including 35-6 as a 106-pound freshman state qualifer, 27-4 as a 113-pound sophomore state qualifier and 31-6 as a 120-pound junior fourth-place finisher at the IHSAA State Finals).
He moved past Andrew Wertman (98-65), Trevor Moe (100-31), Beau Schendel (100-19) and Brayden Moreau (100-29) on the Railroaders’ all-time win list.
The Garrett victory call is topped by Brayden Shearer (152-37), followed by Clayton Fielden (141-26), Bryce Schendel (133-25), Beck Davis (127-38), Dylan Demarco (125-46), Zac McCray (125-29), Lance Moe (119-31), Bo Davis (116-39), Hayden Lee (114-7), Blake Davis (112-24) and Chandler Shearer (106-35).
Tenth-year Railroaders head coach Nick Kraus says Brady has the chance to finish his prep mat career as high as No. 3 on the victory list and No. 2 in winning percentage.
Brady has amassed 63 career pins. The school record — held by Fielden — is 84.
“I don’t pay attention to any of that,” says Brady. “I just go out and do my job.”
Kraus was introduced to Brady’s tenacity in the grappler’s first season at Garrett. The coach recalls Brady placing third a Mishawaka’s Al Smith Classic as a freshman.
“He had some technique, but it was mostly heart,” says Kraus. “His only loss that year was to (Crown Point’s) Sam Goin (who went on to place fifth at 106, fourth at 126 and first at 152 in the past three State Finals).”
On the second day of the 32-team tournament, Brady earned victories in double overtime and ultimate tiebreaker.
Says Brady, “It was two back-to-back matches that it took me a lot of heart to win.
“He was just fighting and landing on top,” says Kraus. “He is a student so his wrestling has come a long way.
“He was always pretty good when he was in the top position, but neutral (was not special) and he’s recognized that and really, really tried getting better at it. That’s what makes him him.”
Where does he get the drive?
“I’m very, very competitive and just motivated and always striving for better,” says Brady. “I never want to settle for anything less than what I can achieve.”
Kraus encourages Brady to use multiple moves if the match situation allows it.
“If it’s a pretty winnable match — and a lot of them are pretty winnable for Hayden — we might say ‘why don’t you work on this for this match?’ or ‘why don’t you try doing this takedown?’”
This is done so when Brady is in a spot that he won’t be predictable for those scouting his tendencies.
SETL are letters that are associated with Garrett wrestling.
It’s the acronym for a motto that came from Bill Kraus who died when his son was 16 and wrestling in high school.
“My dad had a pretty distinctive voice,” says Nick Kraus. “He’d say ‘Show ‘Em The Lights’ and you knew it was his voice.
Looking for something to brand to program with something of meaning, Nick — who was a Garrett assistant for two years before becoming head coach — adopted SETL.
“It’s kind of funny because my technique wasn’t the best when I was younger,” says Kraus. “I thought you had to pin somebody in wrestling. Beating somebody by points wasn’t much of an option. If I got off the mat and I didn’t win by pin I was kind of disappointed.”
Kraus racked up 31 pins his senior year.
“That’s what we did — ‘Show ‘Em The Lights,’” says Kraus, who counts Mike Poppe, Alex Arney, Tyler Lanning, Josh Buuck and Carlos Aguirre as assistant coaches in 2022-23. “It’s a big part of our culture. In town, people know what it means. It’s printed on shirts. Some kids have SETL tattoos once they’ve graduated.”
Hayden Brady was first shown the mat by his father — former Churubusco wrestler Dennis Brady — and began competing as a middle schooler.
“I thought I’d give it a shot,” says Hayden. “Over the course of the year I kind of fell in love with the sport and started wrestling more and more.”
He was involved in other sports, but gave those up to concentrate on his new love.
Wrestling has given him the opportunity to compete all over the country.
“I’ve been on both coasts several times,” says Brady. “And several other places.”
Hayden was at Churubusco in seventh grade and Central Noble in eighth grade before starting high school at Garrett.
Hayden’s mother — Cassie Phillips — lives in Colorado. Older brother Harrison is in Montana and serving in the U.S. Air Force.
Sister Lillie is a Garrett sophomore and a wrestling manager.
After graduating from Garrett, Brady wants to wrestle in college and pursue an Aviation degree.
Kraus teaches middle school Physical Education and Health at Garrett.
He’s also coached football, helped out with youth baseball and taught high schoolers.
“Middle school is my favorite,” says Kraus. “Some people think that those kids are difficult to work with. I enjoy it. I’m able to get kids to come out and wrestle. P.E. is a pretty fun job. You get to play basketball, football, baseball — whatever — all day.”
He was also an MMA fighter for 11 years.
Kraus admires Brady for his character.
Looking for volunteers to coach at a junior varsity tournament on Nov. 19 at West Noble, Kraus saw Brady give up a free Saturday and don a coaching shirt and help out.
“He was amped up about it and enjoyed coaching,” says Kraus. “He didn’t have to come to that. He chose to wake up super early.
“He is willing to do that for his teammates.”
Brady, who is a team captain, has also taken the time to work with other less-skilled wrestlers and drilled with them in the practice room.
“He’s truly a team player,” says Kraus.
Says Brady, “It’s a leadership thing. I was just showing up for my teammates. Even though they may not be the varsity kids they are the future of our program.”
It’s that kind of attitude that has allowed Garrett to enjoy so much recent team success. The Railroaders won a Class 2A Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Team Duals title in 2021 and were IHSWCA 2A Team Duals runners-up in 2018 and 2020 as well as IHSAA sectional and regional champions in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Garrett also reigned in the Allen County Athletic Conference in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2019 and the Northeast Corner Conference in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The 2023 2A IHSWCA State Duals at Jay County is Jan. 7.
There’s also the Al Smith Classic Dec. 29-30, Garrett Invitational Jan. 14 and the NECC Tournament at Eastside Jan. 21 with the Carroll Sectional Jan. 28, Carroll Regional Feb. 4, Fort Wayne Semistate Feb. 11 and State Finals Feb. 17-18 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Garrett’s next competition is a home dual at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30 against DeKalb.
“If you get a quality dual meet, you can’t beat the atmosphere and what it does for fans,” says Kraus. “We’re renewing that rivalry. (The Barons) should be pretty good this year and I think we’re pretty good.
“Wednesday night should be fun.”
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#WrestlingWednesday with Jeremy Hines: Cascade ready for year two under Harris
By JEREMY HINES
The story seems familiar. Big city guy, through fate, ends up in a small town and falls in love with the community. Although Christmas is fast approaching, this isn’t a Hallmark movie script. It’s the real-life journey of Quinn Harris and his Cascade wrestling team.
Harris is a 2015 graduate of Avon High School. Avon’s enrollment is close to 3,000 students. After high school he helped coach at Avon, then coached at Ben Davis, which also has close to 3,000 students. Last year he took the head coaching job at Cascade, a tiny high school in Clayton, IN with an enrollment of under 500.
“There isn’t a whole lot to do here,” Harris said. “It’s a small farm town. 4H and agriculture are huge around here. A lot of kids live and work on the farm. They own pigs. They show pigs. The kids go hunting and fishing. It’s a much different culture than what I’m used to.”
The wrestlers on his Cadet squad like to tease him a little bit about his city-guy life.
“They tease me all the time,” Harris said. “They talk about how my jeans are a little tighter than the other guys.”
The relationship has worked. Last year, in his first season at the helm of the Cadets, Harris led the team to a spot in the team state championship. The Cadets finished sixth at team state, won the Indiana Crossroads Conference for the first time, won a New Castle invitational and had a sectional champion for the first time since 2016.
“All around, I couldn’t have been happier with the year,” Harris said.
Early in the season Harris learned just how close the Cascade wrestling family was.
“Last year, before I accepted the job, they lost a teammate to a disease,” Harris said. “Kadeo Lewis was his name. He would have been a senior last year. It was a big loss for their team. He was a captain as a junior. So, senior night they called it Kadeo Lewis night. We all wore orange in his honor. Orange Cascade shirts when the normal colors are Carolina blue. But the entire crowd was in orange, and it was a big crowd. We sold over 100 shirts that night. It was just a cool thing. Kids that had never went to a wrestling meet before came there. It really showed me that Cascade is a family, for sure.”
Last year Harris was getting to know the team. This year he’s hoping to lead them to the 1A state title. He’s got a nucleus of seven highly talented seniors along with some key underclassmen that could push Cascade to the school’s best season in history.
“This year we have an extremely motivated attitude,” Harris said. “There is a difference in practices. This year they are believing it on their own. They have expectations. Other than cheerleading and cross country, there has never been a team at Cascade that had been to a state championship. The kids are starting to believe it’s possible to win it.”
The Cadets are led by four-ranked seniors. Liam Farmer (182), Michael Hutchison (160) and Dominic McFeeley (126) are all ranked No. 10 in their respective weight classes. Logan Bickel comes in ranked No. 8 at 113 pounds. Walker VanNess isn’t ranked, but he finished the year with a 31-9 record last year at 220 pounds.
“This is a tough senior class,” Harris said. “Five of the seven had over 30 wins last year. Three were semistate guys and one a state qualifier. They are the reason we will have so much success. They are 100 percent leaders. They are our five captains. All five did a lot of off-season wrestling. They went out and competed at Virginia Beach and at Disney.”
Bickel reached the 100-win mark at the end of the season last year. He is a three-time semistate qualifier. He was also the first Fargo All-American from Cascade.
“He’s a big move kind of guy,” Harris said. “He has a lot of fire and passion. He’s a very cool kid and he didn’t even start wrestling until seventh grade. He’s very strong and athletic. I’m looking forward to seeing how far he can go.”
McFeeley was the lone state qualifier from Cascade last year.
“In some people’s eyes that was a big surprise,” Harris said. “He took out a returning 4th place finisher in semistate. He’s one of the hardest workers in our room. He leads day in and day out and he’s very humble. He does things the right way. He really likes working with the younger kids as well.”
Hutchison is another team leader that likes to stay and help the younger kids at practice. He has a brother, Carter, that is the team’s 145 pounder as a sophomore.
Farmer is more of the vocal leader on the team. He was a football phenom this past season as well.
“Liam is a stud on the football field,” Harris said. “He broke our single game rushing record this year. He had a game with seven touchdowns and somewhere around 375 rushing yards. He was in the top 10 in the state for rushing yards.”
Farmer broke his leg in the first round of sectional but is expected to be able to return to the mat sometime in December.
The Cadets expect big contributions this season from Carter Hutchison and fellow sophomore Brayden Burelison as well. Burelison was a conference champion last year and Hutchison was a conference runner-up. Both had over 25 wins as freshmen.
A few other key contributors to this year’s squad will be heavyweight Kyle Sullivan and 106-pound junior Logan Schnarr. Last year Schnarr only had one win going into team state, but he pinned all four of the opponents he faced in the tournament and was named the team MVP.
Harris believes the team state aspect has really helped sell the kids in the sport. It gives them something to be motivated by.
“The kids have really bought into this,” Harris said. “The community really backs the team as well. I think last year we sold around 200 team state T-shirts. When I was at Avon we went to team state, but I didn’t realize how much it meant to the small schools. The fans travel so well in these small communities. It’s extremely cool to see how much this means to them.”
Harris believes because of his young age he has really been able to relate to the kids and help keep them motivated.
“I was just in their shoes not too long ago,” Harris said. “I don’t know exactly what they are going through, but I know what it was like being a kid in high school. I think I’ve built a really good relationship with them on a personal level. Wrestling is about building character for the days after wrestling is over, and I’m glad to be a part of that here.”
The city guy in the small town is learning to adapt. In fact, although he’s never been hunting or fishing before, he’s going to give it a try. The team has been wanting to take him out and teach him some of the small-town ways.
“I’m interested in just about anything, and I’m going to give it a try,” Harris said.
But for now, Harris and the Cascade Cadets have goals to meet on the mat.
High School Wrestling Weekly Season 4 Episode 4
Rex Brewer and Dane Fuelling talking all things wrestling and more, and are joined this week by guests: Muncie Burris Coach Shon Bynum, Muncie Central Coach AJ Bradley, and Kris Everett, photographer for the Decatur Daily Democrat
IndianaMat Gorilla Radio Episode 139
We come to you from the new Gorilla Radio studio with special guest Nick Kraus. We talk 2A wrestling, coaching, wrestling in general and of course MUCH MUCH more!
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#MondayMatness with Steve Krah: Mikey Robles ready to finish strong
By STEVE KRAH
Sometimes a change of venue is the best thing for a person.
Mikey Robles placed fifth at the Michigan High School Athletic Association State Finals as a Niles High School 103-pound freshman in 2020.
He qualified for the regional stage as a sophomore then had to quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic and saw his season end. His grades began to slip, making him academically ineligible. There were other distractions in his life that caused him to look for a new school.
“It was so I could better my life and move away from all the drama and stuff,” says Robles of his decision to change schools.
The oldest of eight children (four boys and four girls), Robles came to Indiana and Kim Wagley (the grandmother of his girlfriend) became his legal guardian until he turned 18.
“(Wagley) treats him like a son,” says Steven Sandefer, head coach at Mishawaka High School where Robles enrolled after Niles. “She’ll do anything for him. She’s a sweet lady.
“She’s working with us to keep him motivated and on-track and making good decisions. He’s come a long way in the last two years.”
Sandefer, who is in his ninth year as a wrestling coach and sixth leading the Cavemen program, knows what it takes to be successful inside the circle.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” says Sandefer. “You have to have discipline. I say this to my guys weekly: In wrestling and in life you’re going to have to do things you don’t want to do things are not always going to be easy if you want to get where you want to go.
“It reinforces a lot of those bigger life lessons.”
That message has reached Robles.
“Wrestling has helped me be a better person in life,” says Robles. “Since it does come with discipline you show people a lot more respect and it also helps you stay out of trouble.”
Robles was with the Cavemen in 2021-22 but ineligible to compete.
“My grades have gotten back up to where they are pretty good,” says Robles, who counts History as his favorite subject and sees a future as an electrical engineer.
With then-Niles wrestling head coach Todd Hesson bringing his Vikings to Penn’s Henry Wilk Classic, Robles had competed against Mishawaka in the past.
Before joining the team, Mikey was familiar with Cavemen grapplers Christian Chavez, Chris Peacock, Courtney Rider, Gunnar Sandefur and Isaac Valdez.
The 2022-23 season — Robles’ senior campaign — opens with him No. 12 in the Indiana Mat preseason rankings at 138 pounds for a team that is No. 2 in Class 3A.
“When I’m on the mat I just like to get physical,” says Robles, who is 18 now and got started in the sport at 5. “I just love to wrestle. This is my senior year. I want to go as far as I can and leave everything on the mat.”
Sandefer says he saw “flashes of greatness” from Robles last winter and during the off-season, but is not sure he was yet fully in grappling shape.
“He has a lot of room to grow in his wrestling,” says Sandefer.
Many wrestlers progress from the end of one high school season to another.
“When the season gets here you can see the improvements the kids made in the off-season,” says Sandefer. “They get to showcase their talents.
“That’s the real rewarding part.”
Robles’ regular workout partners are 113-pound senior Peacock and 145-pound junior Brabender and — occasionally — 132-pound junior Zar Walker. The coaches he works with most are Sandefer and assistant Fabian Chavez.
“We don’t screw around,” says Robles of their practice room mentality. “We go in their and try to get better.”
The wrestlers teach each other moves and talk about making them more effective.
“Staying in shape and packing on muscle is good,” says Robles, who stands 5-foot-7 1/2. “But it’s really not how strong you are to go out there and win a match.
“I believe technique beats strength any day of the week.”
Four state qualifiers return for Mishawaka — Walker (who placed sixth at 132 in 2021-22 and is ranked No. 2 at 132 in the preseason), seniors Chavez (No. 4 at 195) and Valdez (No. 8 at 170) and Brabender (No. 6 at 145). There’s also senior Xavier Chavez (No. 6 at 106).
They are are part of a large squad of 47 (45 boys and two girls).
“That’s about 10 more than usual,” says Sandefer. “My first year I had 30 kids so it’s come up.
“All 47 kids have shown they’re committed.”
A physical education teacher at Mishawaka, Sandefer leads athletes and others through weight training classes. Most wrestlers are in these classes, learning power movements like the bench press and squat.
“We do pull movements,” says Sandefer. “If you’re on a guy’s leg you want to be able to pull him in.
“We also need that leg strength.”
Practices at Mishawaka began Nov. 1. The first boys meet is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 29 at Northern Lakes Conference foe Warsaw.
Among the other competitions for the Cavemen are the Chris Traicoff Memorial Invitational at Calumet New Tech Dec. 10, a dual against crosstown rival Penn Dec. 21 at Mishawaka (Alumni Night), the 32-team Al Smith Classic at Mishawaka Dec. 29-30, the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association 3A State Duals Jan. 7 at Franklin Community, the NLC Championships Jan. 14 at Wawasee, Mishawaka Sectional Jan. 28, Penn Regional Feb. 4, East Chicago Semistate Feb. 11 and IHSAA State Finals Feb. 17-18 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
It’s not all about wrestling for Robles. He played football at Niles as a sophomore and Mishawaka as a senior. He was a middle linebacker for the 10-2 Cavemen in 2022. A shortstop/left fielder in baseball, he intends to try out for that sport in the spring. He stepped away from the diamond after eighth grade to focus on wrestling.
High School News2198 2 9
Bulldog Breakdown: Key Pieces Help Elevate Brownsburg Wrestling Under Snyder
By Anna Kayser
If you’ve been an unfamiliar passerby in the town of Brownsburg, Ind. over the past seven years, one of the first things that might catch your eye are the purple street signs – deep purple markers adorned with a bulldog, two on each corner if you’re lucky.
At least, that’s what I noticed as I drove through the small – but not too small – suburb of Indianapolis en route to the fourth official practice of the 2022-23 IHSAA wrestling season, with no prior knowledge other than what was scribbled on the notepad next to me.
One thing I hadn’t taken note of prior to passing the “Welcome to Brownsburg” sign on Highway 139, and something that might give any other small-town Midwesterner the same familiar wave of recognition: The residents of this town about 30 minutes northwest of downtown Indy live and breathe Brownsburg High School athletics.
The 2021-22 Brownsburg wrestling team was nothing to snub at. The Bulldogs went 18-1 in duals and extended their program-record streak to eight consecutive Hoosier Crossroads Conference championships. Jake Hockaday led the lineup with the first state title by a freshman in school history, continuing Brownsburg’s reign of crowning one champion each year since 2016. More on him later – I promise.
But that was last year, and while the result is indicative of the journey to get to where they are now, it’s not the full story. What better place to begin than at the beginning – when the Bulldog wrestling program transitioned from a bottom-of-the-barrel finish to an HCC Championship in two years, to an IHSAA State Championship in four.
“Regardless of what it is, I have high expectations,” Brownsburg Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Jim Snapp said. “My experience has been if you want to have a state contending team, you [hire a coach] who has done it before.”
After beginning his head coaching career at Mishawaka High School – a time in which he led the program to three consecutive top-two finishes and a pair of championships in 2008 and 2010 – Darrick Snyder found himself as the subject of a coaching inquiry almost 150 miles dead south of the place where he was a Northern Indiana Conference champion and state place winner.
From Snyder’s point of view, there were a number of perks to coming to Brownsburg. And when his wife asked him about the wrestling team’s recent lack of success, he saw the potential to upgrade the team to something special.
“Yeah – but there’s no reason [for that lack of success],” he said. “All the pieces are there.”
Immediately, things began to shift. During Snyder’s first two seasons, the Bulldog program went 36-12 in duals and was crowned 2015 HCC Champions. Of course, that success comes not entirely from the corner but from the center of the mat itself – it’s a combination of what happens behind the scenes and the performances under the spotlight.
That first piece of the puzzle, the one that is encapsulated in the public eye each time the mats are rolled out: The athletes.
The success of that 2015 team was boasted by a pair of wrestlers that took center stage on the IHSAA State podium come February – Ty Mills (106), Brownsburg’s first finalist since Mark Meunier’s title in 1977, and Nathan Walton (170). As four-year place winners at the state tournament, they were two of four key athletes named by Snapp as being difference-makers in raising the heights of the program.
None was more instrumental under Snyder’s tutelage, however, than All-American and two-time NCAA Division I Championships qualifier Brayton Lee, Minnesota’s current starting 157-pounder. A leader that, without Snyder’s drive to create a pipeline from younger levels into a high school program the town could be proud of, might never have donned the purple Bulldog in the first place.
“[My family] knew that [Snyder] was a good coach and had a lot of success, but we weren’t that familiar with him,” Lee said. “We went to Brownsburg for a high school tournament to meet up with him when I was in middle school, and we just talked. He was just supportive and said that he would help me to become the best wrestler I can possibly be. We were really excited about Snyder, he pretty much sold us [on where the Brownsburg program would go].”
Not only is building the high school program a key part in escalating success, but also what feeds into it. The implementation and management of a strong program for middle school students ensures that development and love for the sport occurs at a younger age.
“We were fortunate enough to get some kids [like Lee] that came here because of him, and he’s worked on [building up] the middle school program – kids want to come here, kids want to stay here,” Snapp said. So, we’ve got this interaction of developing the feeder program and kids that, if they’re going to wrestle in the Indianapolis area, they [want] to come to Brownsburg.”
With two established wrestling academies nearby – Contender’s Wrestling Academy in Brownsburg and Red Cobra Wrestling in Avon – growth through both the school program and external coaching elevates athletes even higher.
Lee, a product of Red Cobra, was a good example of how development can skyrocket through that extra effort and help outside of a school program. What the Bulldogs standout star lacked early on, however, was the team aspect.
“It was definitely different, just because I had never been on a team before – I had just wrestled on my own,” Lee said. “I had grown up going to our very intense wrestling club and on both sides, practices were tough. I appreciated and respected that. [Snyder] was always making us do lots of tough stuff intertwined with wrestling.”
Prior to Lee’s first of three IHSAA state titles in 2016 – a year in which he, along with five other state placers, led the charge on Brownsburg’s IHSWCA Dual State championship and IHSAA state runner-up finishes – the Bulldogs had only crowned two individual champions in school history.
“We were always focused on the next day,” Lee said. “The first time I won, it was awesome, and I was grateful for it – but there was always a team aspect. I wanted to win with our team, and that idea of winning definitely pushed us. I think me winning helped bring other guys along. Knowing I was kind of a leader, knowing that my success was inspiring other guys on the Brownsburg wrestling team made me want to keep pushing.”
For Lee’s career specifically, the results of the drive to win as a team came quickly. His second title at 145 pounds saw seven Bulldogs on the IHSAA podium and a franchise-high three finalists – Mills and Blake Mulkey included as runners-up – to lead Brownsburg to its first IHSAA state championship in school history.
That influx of high-performing athletes jumpstarted Brownsburg’s rise to the top of high school wrestling in central Indiana.
“You put those kids together – we had a core of four, good kids – and Darrick coached up other kids around them,” Snapp said. “That started [a stretch] of us winning the conference every year for the last eight years, we’re in the strongest athletic conference in the state of Indiana. Our wrestling team has dominated. It hasn’t even been close.”
The second piece to the puzzle, where Snapp, the administration and coaching staff as a whole come into play, is the support Snyder continues to have behind him.
The best example? The wrestling room at Brownsburg High School, built during Snyder’s reign as head coach and designed by Snapp to help raise the standard of the program and accommodate the growing numbers of the extracurricular.
“I knew I was going to have [Snapp’s] support on just simple things,” Snyder said. “My first year here, I wanted to take a fan bus to individual state… and I was told no [by the athletic director]. I said, ‘This is a really important to the program. These guys need to watch this event, it’s incredible.’
“I called Jim, and every year [since], just like most teams, we get to take a team bus to state.”
The backing from Snapp and the administration is a means to an end in shifting the culture not just in the Brownsburg wrestling room, but in the town that loves its high school athletics.
“That first year, there wasn’t really anyone there for the kid that was wrestling [at state]. When you win, you want to look up and see a bunch of purple and sit with those people between rounds,” Snyder said. “We’ve really tried to change that around, anything like that.”
It also extends to the actual competition and helping those wrestlers reach the mats at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
In order to develop the athletes coming to Brownsburg or growing through school programs the Bulldogs support, the level of competition needed to continuously be raised.
“When I first got here, no program did any overnights or anything out of state,” Snyder said. “I went to [the athletic director] and told [them], ‘I’ve got to get out of Indianapolis’ – I was tired of wrestling the same teams over and over again, and then we got to the point that there weren’t many teams in our area that would be competitive.”
This upcoming season, the Bulldogs’ schedule includes the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Wrestling Tournament from and the Crown Point Invitational – Crown Point defeated Brownsburg 178-105 in the 2022 finals, setting an IHSAA record for the largest margin of victory by a team champion by over 20 points – on back-to-back weekends in December.
That elevation in competition level allows wrestlers to face some of their biggest challenges early and prepares them for high-pressure situations come February.
“I always tell [our guys] that our schedule is not meant for them to go undefeated,” Snyder said. “If you do, that’s great, but we’ve set up a schedule where we’re going to take some losses. That took administrative support to be willing to allow us to do overnights, to allow us to go out of state.”
Pushing athletes beyond their comfort zone to prepare them for future career hurdles is a common theme in Snyder’s coaching style, something that is on record in helping wrestlers reach their full potential.
And, well, maybe no one can attest to that better than a Big Ten starter.
“I think just his competitiveness and him pushing us every day helped me,” Lee said. “He helped push me past my comfort zone a little but more than maybe I would myself, and that’s really the main purpose of a coach. Snyder knew I wanted to be great, and he helped me move into a little bit more uncomfortable territories which is important for any athlete, especially when you’re trying to go to the next level.”
College News887 1
DI Out-of-State Indiana Preview 2 of 2
By: Blaze Lowery
Finally getting to show the nation what he is truly made of, two-time Indiana State Champion, Silas Allred of Shenandoah is ready to scrap. Currently ranked 17th in the nation at 197lbs on FloWrestling, Allred has found his home away from home at Nebraska. Nebraska, also ranked 17th in the nation by the NCAA, is starting to become a home for Indiana-native wrestlers.
Allred’s goal is to go out and compete to the best of his ability. More effort and heart will translate into his wrestling. Letting it fly and knowing he has earned the right to compete at the Big Ten level is what motivates him day by day. “Knowing what you are doing it for is a superpower,” says Allred referring to his reason why he wrestles. A majority of wrestlers look at the wins and losses when at the end of the day it is truly about getting better. Allred highlights how wrestling has so many parallels to life. He finds greater purpose in trying to be the best version of himself he can possibly be, not only for himself, but for God.
Coming into the Nebraska room with multiple All American was an eye-opener for Allred. Figuring out his First and secondary attacks were only the beginning. Being able to hand fight for seven minutes, grinding in ties, and being intentional with his hand placement are traits he had to sharpen in order to take that next step. Allred wants his teammates to be champions on the mat and in life. Being intentional with every move he makes, Silas Allred will be on nation’s radar in the coming months.
Indiana State place-winner, Andrew Wilson of Cathedral, is finding his place at Gardner-Webb. Wilson, excited about the season, is looking to compete at 174lbs for the Bulldogs this season. Wilson, a smaller 174-pounder, believes his technique will outweigh the odds.
Gardner-Webb placed fourth in their conference last season, and are looking to capitalize with the amount of returners they have from last season. Wilson’s goal for the Bulldogs is to be a top three team in the All-Southern Conference. Being on a Christian campus, Wilson incorporates Jesus into everything he and his team do. He recently became a Young Life leader and helps lead his team in bible study before practice.
Training and focusing on getting better each day are what Wilson did to compete at the next level. Wilson continues to represent the Irish and Indiana and impress his fans every season.
Fine-tuning his skills, continuing to perfect his craft, and getting better every day, three-time Indiana State Champion, Brayton Lee of Brownsburg is ready to be a showstopper for the Gophers of Minnesota this season. Bouncing back from a season-ending injury, Lee gained a new perspective for the sport of wrestling and why he does it. Grateful for the opportunity to compete with some of the best in the nation, he cherishes what the sport has done for him and he is hungry to get back to the national tournament once more.
Lee is really focusing on different ways to improve his mind and body. Creating offense and angles in the practice room have helped him find different ways to score. He focuses on being “thoughtful and reflective,” so he does not hold anything back in competition. “If you only live for the seven minutes in a match but hate everything else, it’s not going to work,” says Lee. Finding a love for the sport of wrestling is what makes a champion.
The Gophers, ranked 12th in the nation, are bringing back nearly everyone in their lineup from last season, meaning they could make a run and contend for an NCAA title, no question. Lee intends to push that line, as he is ranked 5th in the nation by FloWrestling. With intentions to wrestle after college, this is just the beginning of the legacy that is…. Brayton Lee.
High School Wrestling Weekly Season 4 Episode 3
Rex Brewer and Dane Fuelling continue their look ahead to the upcoming wrestling season, and are joined this week by guests Mike Reiser, Frank Bumgardner, and Sam Riesen
High School Wrestling Weekly Season 4 Episode 2
Rex Brewer and Dane Fuelling begin with a look back at the volleyball state finals with Bellmont and the football sectional championship with Adams Central, before turning their attention to wrestling, being joined by special guest Tony Currie
Gorilla Radio556 1
IndianaMat Gorilla Radio Episode 138
The season is starting, Mike and Joe discuss a variety of topics on the upcoming wrestling season.
College News681 2 3
DI Out of State Preview Part 1 of 2
By: Blaze Lowery
Jordan Slivka & Carson Brewer
Ohio University is home to a few Indiana State Champions that have been making a name for themselves as Bobcats. Two-time State Champion, Jordan Slivka of Cathedral, is coming off his best collegiate season yet. Finishing his last season with a 25-7 record at 157lbs, He found himself in Detroit for the DI NCAA Championships. Slivka is bumping up to the 165lbs weight class this season and was an honorable mention in FloWrestling’s 2022-2023 NCAA DI rankings. “It’s really cool knowing that I am still believed in and looked at even when moving up a weight class,” states Slivka.
Slivka reminisces on his time wrestling at the nationals saying he was unable to hear the whistle when he started his pigtail match. The crowd’s roars fuel him, as he is “dying to compete” for the Bobcats this season. His goal is to do what he needs to do to get his team a MAC Championship title. Individually, his is goal is to compete to the best of his ability every single match. “All to gain and nothing to lose,” Slivka is on his path to find himself back at the NCAA Championships. Being a great wrestler at the next level comes naturally, “if you’re willing to buckle down on work ethic and show yourself how good you could be,” says Slivka.
Indiana State Champion and FloNationals place-winner, Carson Brewer of Avon, is also making waves in the MAC. For the first time in his collegiate career, he is having a healthy, injury-free preseason. Starting the preseason off strong is a huge factor for success at the next level, Brewer believes it is his time to win a MAC Championship title. Wrestling at 184lbs for the Bobcats, there is no one in his conference that he has not beaten already, making this goal much more feasible.
In his transition from high school to collegiate wrestling, Brewer’s biggest adjustment was to not exert himself so quickly into the match. Slowing his wrestling down has only made him more efficient and tactical. Brewer highlights how Ohio is bringing back everyone in their previous lineup, making a MAC Team Championship title a feasible goal for the Bobcats. “Doing the right things off the mat is what will make you successful in collegiate wrestling,” says Brewer.
Slivka and Brewer have big plans for Ohio this season and will continue to put on for Indiana wrestling.
Last season, the nation got to watch Indiana State Champion, Lucas Davison of Chesterton, gain All-American status at the 2022 DI NCAA Championships. Moving up to heavyweight, although a big adjustment, put him at 6th in that nation. Davison states that “establishing pace” in his matches since moving up has led to his success in the post season. Adjusting his style of wrestling to accommodate for the heavyweight transition forced Davison to clean up his attacks.
Davison also acknowledges how remarkable it was to see what it takes to become a National Champion, referring to his teammate Ryan Deakin. “Now it’s a matter of following his footsteps,” stated Davison. Northwestern is bringing back all four of their All-American’s from last season, making Davison’s goal of being a top 3 team in the nation much more achievable.
Competing year round is an essential ingredient Davison attributes his successful career too. With freestyle being a key reason behind his recruitment, wrestling in the offseason propelled him to Big Ten recruitment. Competition is opportunity and coaches love to see guys that are willing to put it all out their year-round. Davison is ready to take advantage of every opportunity that steps on the line this season.