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    2014 State Finals MEGA Preview

    by Chad Hollenbaugh


    The fireworks will begin around 6pm Friday night on south Pennsylvania street. Approximately three and a half hours later, dreams will be dashed for 112 young men... but the dream will continue for the 112 winners on the four mats of fun. Some very interesting story lines have emerged over the course of the season and all wrestling eyes will be focused this weekend to see how they play out.


    [caption id=attachment_6275" align="alignleft" width="300]992b-300x214.jpg Gelen Robinson(right) could face a rematch with Fletcher Miller(left) in the 220lbs finals this year.[/caption]



    Talented freshman always make themselves known at the lightest weight class but the sheer number of highly skilled freshmen in this year's class is not normal. Nine of the sixteen finalists are in their first year of high school. A quick look at the rankings will show that the top five ranked kids are all frosh.




    If you are as old as me, you remember “The Big Red Machine” was the nickname of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds. They got the nickname because they were a dynasty that won two World Series an were a yearly contender. Last season, freshman Chad Red burst on the scene and was dominant on his way to a state title at 106. As this young Dragon from New Palestine grows, will he develop into a one man grappling dynasty?




    Stevan Micic is a two time state champ with various national wrestling credentials and scholarship to attend Northwestern University next season. You would think that he would be stone cold lock for his third state championship. However, a storm has been brewing in Evansville in the name of Nick Lee. This freshman from Mater Dei has plenty of credentials and has yet to be tested in his high school career.


    BIG STORIES #4 & #5 – THE REMATCHES (132/145)


    At 132 the entire state has the chance to be treated to round three of the rivalry developing between Warren Central's Deondre Wilson and Perry Meridian's Brandon James. Wilson has come out on top at the both the regional and semi-state, both by the slimmest of margins. The other big rematch could happen at 145 between a couple of state champs. Perry's Cody LeCount narrowly edged Mishawaka's Tommy Forte last month at Bellmont's Main Event. This rivalry has a chance to continue at the collegiate level as LeCount has signed with Central Michigan and Forte will join his former coach at Buffalo.




    I have an admitted bias to three sport athlete's and the top dog at 220, Gelen Robinson, is one of the finest all around athlete's the state of Indiana has ever seen. A scholarship to play football at Purdue is Robinson's future but there is no doubt in my mind that if he focused on wrestling in college he could be a national champion. He is also an elite track athlete and one of few Hoosier high schoolers to ever toss the discus 200 feet. In this era of specialization, Gelen is a national level athlete in three sports. A rare competitor that should be appreciated this weekend. WEIGHT CLASS BREAKDOWNS


    106 - As mentioned earlier this class is packed full of young talent and that talent is spread throughout the state. Evansville semi-state champ Paul Konrath of Mt. Vernon has separated himself from the other talented southerners by a slim margin. Cathedral's Breyden Bailey has shown he is the class of the Indy area this season and Griffith's Jeremiah Reitz has risen to the top in the North. Other talented lightweights are certainly capable of upsetting the frontrunners. Drew Hildebrandt is a returning medalist at this weight, Colton Cummings of Lowell and Will Egli of Mater Dei are just a tick behind their respective area rivals, and coming onto the radar fast is Lukas Long of Lakeland.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fight – Lukas Long vs. Kyle Hatch – Long surprised the field at Fort Wayne on is run to the title and the veteran senior grappler from Lakeland High School does not have much tournament experience. He must face the highly talented Hatch of Warsaw; who placed fourth in the deep field at Merrillville. Upset Alert.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Colton Cummings vs. Breyden Bailey and Will Egli vs. Jeremiah Reitz – Are you serious? These two battles are semifinal or final quality and we get to see them on Saturday morning. The crystal ball is telling me the region boys will reign supreme here.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Cummings vs. Paul Konrath – Two super frosh from different corners of the state should be very entertaining for the fans of Indiana.


    113 – There will be no shortage of excitement at the second weight class this weekend. A great mix of veteran studs and young guns will make this an exciting and unpredictable class to forecast. The veteran studs will be led by Franklin's DJ Smith, East Noble's Garrett Pepple and Merrillville's Michael Garza. Young guns and new faces on the state wide scene will be led by Evansville Reitz' Tyler Ferguson and Munster's Jason Crary. No clear cut frontrunner will make this an exciting class to keep an eye on.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fight – Austin Slates vs. Tyler Ferguson – Ferguson is the clear favorite in this match up but this will be no walkover. Slates has wrestled one of the states toughest schedules and has performed well in the post season. Ferguson is seen by some as a state title contender....a solid win over Slates would make a believer of me.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Skylour Turner vs. D.J. Smith and Tyler Ferguson vs. Garrett Pepple – Turner is flying under the radar at this point in time and he is talented enough to sneak up and beat some of the higher profile names in this weight class. Ferguson and Pepple should be an epic battle of two legitimate studs.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Jason Crary vs. D.J. Smith – Crary has some legit wins against the studs of the north and this potential semifinal match up with Smith should be excellent. Smith is a super strong veteran of the two day state tournament looking to be a state champion and also helping his team fight for a state title. Crary is a slick freshman with potential to be a multi time finalist.


    [caption id=attachment_6276" align="alignright" width="300]374b-300x200.jpg Chad Red(right) will bump up two weights in search of his second title.[/caption]


    120 – Chad Red is the headliner here and most definitely the odds on favorite to win his second state title. However this class is one of the deepest and most talented group of sixteen to take the mats this weekend. I could see at least six other grapplers with a legitimate shot at the top spot if Red were to falter. The mix of styles and athletes will make this class very fun to watch.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Jacob Cottey vs. Forrest Glogouski, DeLawerence Gayfield vs. Matthew McKinney and Ruben Rodriguez vs. Bailey Lahue – These matches should really start Banker's Life cooking Friday Night and all three could go either way. Lahue was a pre-tournament favorite to make the finals but was tripped up at semi-state. Gayfield and Cottey are former medalists but have drawn studs for their first matches.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Brock Hudkins vs. Forrest Glogouski and Chad Red vs. Bailey Lahue. Two awesome matches potentially await the fans Saturday morning. Hudkins and Glo should be a low scoring grind it out affair with some tough riding throughout. Red vs. Lahue is a finals quality match up with contrasting styles that should provide lots of fireworks.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Glogouski/Hudkins winner vs. Jake Sinkovics – Sinkovics talk was all the rage last year at this time and the young caveman had a disappointing weekend. This season Sinko has had a much lower profile but he has been no less dominating. The winner of Glo vs. Hudkins will come into the match with confidence and momentum.


    126 – If the state association had any sense of drama, they would have adjusted the brackets so that the main event of the entire weekend, the potential match up of Stevan Micic and Nick Lee would have happened in the finals and not the semis. Oh well, this is the big one that has been the talk of the Indiana wrestling world this winter. Both old man Micic and young gun Lee seem to wrestling their best right now so lets all enjoy.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Elliott Molloy vs. Clarence Johnson, Cael McCormick vs. Aidan Kenny, AJ Belden vs. Anthony Vaughn. Molloy has the name recognition in this first key battle on Friday night but never underestimate a relative unknown from Merrillville. Coach Maldonado and staff have made old habit of having their kids peak at the right time of the season. The second match up of McCormick vs Kenny might have implications in the team race. Belden and Vaughn are evenly matched veterans.


    Saturday Morning Slugfest – Erique Early vs. Molloy/Johnson winner. Fort Wayne Snider's Erique Early is a former state medalist who has been largely forgotten despite having an unblemished 26-0 record. He also has a strong wrestling bloodline as both his dad and uncle were former state champions. If Early can stay unbeaten he puts himself in position to possibly wrestle under the spotlight.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Early vs. Zach Davis – OK, OK. Everyone knows that the big one is on the other side of the bracket but I am also interested in a potential Early/Davis match. Davis' strong run and tough battle with Micic last year put him on the radar for 2014. The future Midshipman from Penn is a clear favorite here but I'm feeling nutty....going with Early in an upset.


    132 – This could be the most anticipated match under the lights Saturday night if both Brandon James and Deondre Wilson hold chalk. They have already battled the past two weekends with Wilson winning both in nail bitting fashion. These two studs are obviously evenly matched and both are very well coached. Don't leave for a shave ice during this tussle.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Blake Jourdan vs. Brandon James, Sam Lovejoy vs. Devin Childers, Daniel Hesch vs. Clayton Moore. Jourdan versus James sounds like an NBA argument but this battle Friday night will have implications on the team title race. James must be ready to go Friday night or he could be upset. Childers vs. Lovejoy is an interesting match up as both of these juniors are extremely strong, stout competitors. Hesch, from state power Mishawaka, has put together a very nice post season this year squares off against the very talented Moore, who hails from the virtually unknown North Manchester.


    Saturday Morning Slugfest – Josh Davis vs. Seth Carithers. Carithers must survive a tough Friday night clash with Kegan Kern to match up with Davis, a seasoned tough southerner from Reitz. Can Carithers conjure up some Alex Griffin magic and make a run similar to his former teammate a couple of years ago.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Devin Broukal vs. Deondre Wilson. Broukal of Bloomington South is one of those athletes that seems to have been around forever. That's a compliment because he is a multiple time state qualifier. I haven't seen Bloomington South wrestle much this year but if they coached as well as they were under Royce Deckerd, Broukal has a chance to slow the Tasmanian devil that is dressed as Deondre Wilson.


    138 – The depth at the 138 is impressive but I am having a tough time getting real excited about any of the potential match ups. I'm not really sure why because there are plenty of talented grapplers in the field of sixteen. Three contenders stand out as having the best shot for the top of the podium: Drew Hughes of Lowell, Tommy Cash of Lawrence North and Skyler Lykins of Franklin.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fight – Jake Ruberg vs. Jacob Covaciu and Steven “Bam” Lawrence vs. Trent Pruitt. These two Friday night clashes involving three sophomores and one freshman might be glimpse into the future of middleweights in Indiana. Ruberg is a virtual unknown out of Lawrenceburg who impressed at Evansville. He will square off against Jacob Covaciu of Merrillville. Covaciu had a defining ticket round win over Jake Fuqua of Crown Point. “Bam” surprised me at semi-state and looked very strong. Pruitt is an up and coming stud from Warren Central looking to take the next step.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Tommy Cash vs. Wyatt Seng and Tyler Fleener vs. Drew Hughes. The bottom of the bracket serves up a couple of potentially interesting match ups. Cash is long and funky. How that style will play with the solid Seng will be fun to watch. Fleener is one of Indiana's premier brawlers who can score in bunches. Hughes is slick and hammer on top.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Hughes vs. Cash. These two talented underclassmen should provide plenty of entertainment if they both reach the semis.


    [caption id=attachment_6277" align="alignleft" width="300]617b-300x199.jpg Cody LeCount will look to capture his second state title.[/caption]


    145 – Two division 1 titans dominate this bracket and if all goes to plan, they will face a second time. Cody LeCount and Tommy Forte are quite simply two of the states premier wrestlers. Their match in mid January was awesome to watch. Grab your popcorn and enjoy.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Evan Loe vs. Parker Fritz and Logan Neher vs. Isaac Rentes. Loe is a semi-state champ and Fritz is an unknown on the state level but I have a hunch this might be a heck of a match. Loe is solid but Fritz is a powerful and explosive athlete.


    Saturday Morning Slugfest – Tommy Forte vs. Ben Harvey. Harvey has been ranked third for the entire season and got the unfortunate draw into Forte at the quarter bracket level. Harvey certainly won't be intimidated by the mighty Caveman and is certainly talented enough to pull off the upset if Forte is not on his game.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Tommy Forte vs. Evan Loe. I'm not sure how close this will be but it appears to be the more compelling of the two semifinal matches. Similar styles could lead to a tight match but if Forte has his game right he just wrestles at a different level than most kids in the state.


    152 – Another weight class where a threesome has appeared to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Top ranked Brendon Kelley of Evansville Central is on the same side of the bracket as second ranked Tristan Macri of Mishawaka. These two met last year in the state finals with Kelley losing to Macri in the 3rd/4th clash. Whomever wins the semifinal clash this year will likely face the ultra talented Chandler Carroll, who already has three state medals on his resume.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Willie Armstrong vs. Seth Ferguson and Michael Steele vs. Tylor Willms. The first Friday night clash pits the Pirate from Merrillville against the Artesian from Martinsville. This opener is made most interesting because the winner has to like his chances to make it to the semifinals. The second battle features Steele, who has been battle tested, against Willms. Willms represents tiny Fremont high school in the far northeast corner of the state. The Willms name is well known in that area of the state but 2014 is the first time in ten years that the Eagles have had a state qualifier.


    Saturday Morning Slugfest – Darden Schurg vs. Brendon Kelley. Contrasting styles again should make this battle highly entertaining. The exciting and funky Kelley has been a joy to watch the past few years and he will have to deal with one of the thirty-four Schurg boys, all of whom are technically sound and rarely find themselves out of position.


    Semifinal Smackdown – The aforementioned potential clash between #1 Kelley and #2 Macri is the highlight match of this bracket. Will Macri be able to neutralize the funk that Kelley will bring to the table? I'm not sure but it will be awfully fun to watch.


    [caption id=attachment_6278" align="alignright" width="300]782b-300x200.jpg Vinny Corsaro has dominated all his opponents this season.[/caption]


    160 – There is much chatter about the 160 state class despite the fact that the number one ranked wrestler, Vinny Corsaro, has been the undisputed number one guy all season. For some reason, wrestlers like Kenny Hughes of Lowell, Nick Borta of North Montgomery, Kyle Jolas of Huntington North and Joey Mammolenti of Penn are being spoken of as possible contenders for the crown. I am not buying it.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Isaiah Kemper vs. Kyle Jolas and Edmond Hogan vs. Nick Borta. Kemper, out of Evansville Central is a real goer and could catch the more hyped Jolas off guard on Friday night. Hogan should know best to keep the match with Borta on his feet and off the mat. Friday night in this weight class has plenty of great match ups throughout the bracket.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Rhett Hiestand vs Nick Borta and Jordan Partee vs. Joey Mammolenti. Borta has had his way with Yorktown's Hiestand in two previous match ups this year. An upset here could propel Yorktown into the team race title talk. Partee has quietly fashioned one of the best seasons in Madison's wrestling history but will he be able to stand up to the peaking Mammolenti of Penn.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Kenny Hughes vs. Nick Borta – Will this be the year that three time qualifier Hughes lives up to his press clippings and makes a run for the state title or will the hard nosed Borta grind his way to a win and another match up with Corsaro in the finals.


    170 – This class is as wide open as any weight class I have seen in some time and that makes it very difficult to project and predict. Couple that with the fact that there are some legitimate dark horses who might have slipped slightly at semi-state and it should make for interesting wrestling up and down the class.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Jacob Stevenson vs. Tristen Tonte and Jake Rickenbaugh vs. Colton Gonzalez. The first match up is particularly interesting because it could definitely impact the team race. Stevenson is the clear favorite here but if I know Tonte, I know there is a side headlock that could come from any angle. The second clash pits two wrestlers with a combined 92-2 record. The winner has a realistic shot at making the finals.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Jacob Stevenson vs. Tristan Wilson and Chase Osborn vs. Jake Rickenbaugh. Stevenson is the top ranked wrestler in the state but the top eight in this weight class are so closely bunched an upset is possible at every level. Wilson is not talked about a lot but his resume matches any in the bracket. Chase Osborn of Penn just keeps getting better and a projected match up with Rickenbaugh should be most entertaining.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Dillon Jackson vs Chase Osborn – Osborn has one of the quietest one loss season I have ever noticed and he must win two tough matches to reach the semis but I like his chances. Who knows.....He has a legitimate shot to be Penn's first state champion in a long time. His potential semifinal foe would be Dillon Jackson of Yorktown. Jackson is peaking at the right time for the Tigers.


    182 – As we move up the weight classes, I get into more familiar territory when it comes to prognosticating. I see the 182 class as a three man race for the title. South Bend St. Joe's Ryan Jankowski, Edgewood's Damien Chambers and Cathedral's Blake Rypel appear to have separated themselves from the field. Edgewood and St. Joe are not exactly wrestling powerhouses so I would give the coaching edge to Rypel who might be wrestling for team state title as well.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Nathan Warman vs. Myron Howard Anderson and Timothy Schoonveld vs. Michael Petrole. Warman of Perry Meridian versus Howard - Anderson of Yorktown is another Friday night match up of state title contending teams which will give it a little extra juice. Schoonveld and Petrole will match up two of the stronger athletes in this class.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Blake Rypel vs Jeffrey Wiseman and Corey Hinkle vs. Timothy Schoonveld. Cathedral and Penn are two other teams that have an eye on the big team trophy so Penn's staff will have a gameplan ready for Cathedral's Rypel. I have been extremely impressed with Penn's preparation of their wrestlers this post season. Hinkle comes in as the semi-state champ and is the decided favorite but the physicality that Schoonveld will bring might just be enough to propel the KV Kougar into the semis.


    Semifinal Smackdown – Ryan Jankowski vs. Damien Chambers. Both of these studs have experience at Banker's Life as Jankowski was 6th last year and Chambers was a qualifier. Both are elite multi sport athletes. Jankowski is probably a little more unpredictable and this could either work for him or against him. Chambers has been under the radar all season but has big victories over numerous studs the past two seasons.


    195 – This bracket looks extremely lopsided to me with the top half being a serious meat grinder. The entire bracket is filled with veteran toughness and young talent that his hitting its stride at the right time of the season. If New Palestine's vet Ryan Wagner can survive the minefield in front of him this weekend he deserves to be the champ. We will see this weekend if Wagner has been severely under ranked all season.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Morgan Kral vs. Randy Scott, Dakota Thacker vs. Kobe Woods and Jacob Aven vs. Kanez Omar. Friday night will be very fun at the 195 class with multiple key match ups. Kral of Crown Point will take on Scott of Mooresville. Kral is a tough physical match up with just about anyone in the state due to his 6'5” frame. Scott is the freestyle phenom who burst on the scene last summer. Two juniors to keep an eye on. Thacker and Woods might just be the premier Friday night battle in any weight class. Thacker is strong and seasoned with a Division 1 ride waiting for him at Indiana. Woods is a slick sophomore who surprised the Merrillville semi-state by qualifying last year. The last key battle in this class pits Purdue signee Jacob Aven against Fort Wayne Wayne big man Kanez Omar. Omar's only loss on the season was to top ranked Tieshawn Johnson.


    Saturday Morning Slugfests – – Ryan Wagner vs. Kobe Woods and Tyler Scott vs. Kanez Omar. Wagner first test will be against the winner of Woods and Dakota Thacker. I project Woods to be man Wagner will be facing. Wagner's combo of strength and positioning will prove to be too much for the younger Woods. The second key match up pits Scott against the the super long Omar. Scott learned how to wrestle the long lanky types and this will serve him well against the Fort Wayne big man.


    Semifinal Smackdowns – Tieshawn Johnson vs. Ryan Wagner and Katrell Moss vs. Tyler Scott. Johnson has been ranked #1 most of the season and has key wins over many top names. Wagner has more experience at this level where the pressure starts to mount. On the other side of bracket, Moss combines great strenth and athleticism in a difficult package to deal with. Scott is well coached and will come ready to do battle.


    220 – “Outlined against the ruby red wrestling surface, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Robinson, Miller, Tolley and Faulkenberg....” The four horsemen of Indiana wrestling inhabit the 220 class and might just make up the most intimidating group of big men the state has ever produced. Robinson is the returning state champ but there are those that claim its any one of the other three's turn to shine.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Gunnar Larson vs. Eliseo Guerra and Christain Warner vs. Seth Meyer. I will have my eye on Avon's Larson in his match up with the Elkhart Central big man. Larson appears to be the next in a long line of quality Oriole big men. I underestimated Lafayette Harrison's Meyer last week at semi-state so I want to take a closer look this week to see if he has the potential to make a run for the top next year. Zionsville's unknown Christian Warner will be his foe. One thing I do know about a Zionsville wrestler is that he will be extremely well coached.


    Saturday Morning Slugfest – Connor Tolley vs. Christian Warner. The four top dogs are prohibitive favorites to make the semifinals but something tells me an unknown like Warner might have the combination of skill and coaching to give a big dog a scare. Tolley is no ordinary favorite, he is the 13th ranked 220 in the country.


    Semifinal Smackdowns – Dylan Faulkenberg vs. Gelen Robinson and Connor Tolley vs. Fletcher Miller. Faulkenberg, the big man from small Cardinal Ritter High School, is the least well known of the four horsemen and that might be to his advantage. He has put together an impressive 99-1 record over the past two years but a narrow loss in ticket round at New Castle last year prevented him from making it to state. What more can be said about Robinson... I simply think he is the best athlete the state has produced in my 30 plus years of participating, watching and coaching high school sports. Tolley and Miller should be an old fashioned barnburner. The fans will certainly get a treat to watch finals quality matches during the afternoon.


    [caption id=attachment_6280" align="alignright" width="199]760b-199x300.jpg Big Wes Bernard is one of the big dawgs looking for a title at heavyweight.[/caption]


    285 – Onward to big boys. Unlike many wrestling fans, I really enjoy watching quality big man wrestling and this year's group of sixteen has plenty of quality. I do think that three heavyweights have clearly made themselves contenders for the crown. Cathedral's Wes Bernard has been around the block and is nationally decorated, Jay County's Eric Hemmelgarn owns a victory over last year's state champ, and Merrillville's young Shawn Streck was a medalist as a freshman, a rare feat indeed.


    Projected Key Match Ups


    Friday Night Fights – Nathon Trawick vs. John Duvall and Gavan Jolley-Little vs Darrius Connell. Trawick of Richmond and Duvall of West Lafayette will square off in a battle of Red Devils. Both are physical specimens that should lead to a high scoring affair. The second match up will be interesting to see if Jolley-Little can parlay some his freestyle success into a medal at the state level.


    Saturday Morning Slugfest – 'Stormin' Norman Oglesby vs. Tyler Beeson. Oglesby is still just a junior who surprised the semi-state field at Evansville last year where he was the champ. A narrow lost to state runner up Joe Garland prevented the Purple Giant from medaling. If he can storm his way into the semi's I think he becomes a real threat for a state title in 2015.


    Semifinal Smackdowns – Eric Hemmelgarn vs. Norman Oglesby and Wes Bernard vs. Shawn Streck. A great final four with this year's top two seniors battling it out with the top two underclassmen. Hemmelgarn will use his massive frame and height to try to neutralize the Ben Davis big boy and retain his state (#2) and national (#18) ranking. The other side of the bracket has Cathedral's top ranked Bernard facing off against Streck, who despite being just a sophomore will in no way back down from the Rutgers signee. I think Bernard's age and experience will be too much for Streck in this exciting battle.

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