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Article: #WrestlingWednesday Feature: Eldred Just Trying to be the Best for Six Minutes

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Brought to you by EI Sports

 

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By JEREMY HINES

Thehines7@gmail.com

 

Evan Eldred’s dad taught him a valuable lesson when it comes to wrestling. He taught him that Evan doesn’t have to be the best wrestler in the state.

 

Ironically, that advice has molded Edred into a semistate champ and the No. 3-ranked 138 pounder this season.

 

“The best advice I’ve been given in wrestling is when my dad tells me that I don’t have to be the best,” Evan said. “I just have to be better than my opponent for six minutes. It doesn’t matter who I’m wrestling or what they’ve done. I took that to heart. If I go out there and do my best, it doesn’t matter if the guy across from me is the best in the state or whatever, you can’t let that make you nervous.”

 

Eldred has been nearly flawless this year on the mat. He’s 39-1, with his lone loss coming at the hands of No. 1-ranked Brayton Lee in a close 5-3 match.

 

“Last year I started my season off with a close loss to Brayton Lee,” Eldred said. “This year I ran into him at conference and had a close match with him. It was probably the best thing for me because it made me realize I’m close, but I wasn’t to where I needed to be.”

 

Eldred is a superb student. He has a 3.78 GPA, was Academic All-State honorable mention, and will wrestle next season for the Indiana Hoosiers.

 

Eldred’s older brother, Dillon, attends IU and Evan always dreamed of going there as well.

 

Westfield coach Terry O’Neil knew about Eldred’s desire to go to IU, so when he had a chance meeting with Hoosier coach Duane Goldman, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about his talented senior.

 

“I crossed paths with Coach Goldman at the Indiana wrestling coaches clinic,” O’Neil said. “I told him we had a kid whose brother goes to IU and that is where he really wants to go as well. I told him that Evan has flown under the radar and told him about Evan’s wrestling and academic resume. He called Evan that night.”

 

O’Neil has the highest praise for Eldred.

 

“I’m pretty biased,” he said. “But if I had only one 138 pounder in the state to pick to be on my team, he would be my choice. I know he can compete with anyone.”

 

O’Neil says he has never coached a kid with the ability to learn and utilize technique as well as Eldred.

 

“Several factors go into making Evan special,” O’Neil said. “You can show him a technique on a Tuesday and he will use it in a match on Wednesday. His ability to recognize technique is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a high school athlete.

 

“Another factor is that he never lets the moment get to him, no matter how important the match is or how big the stage is. He is even tempered and able to maintain an incredible focus.”

 

Eldred had goals to be Westfield’s first four-time state qualifier. He qualified as a freshman at 120 pounds, but then fell short his sophomore season, losing in the ticket round of semistate. He bounced back last year and placed sixth at 132 pounds.

 

Not making it to state his sophomore year was heartbreaking for Eldred, but it showed Coach O’Neil just how good of a kid Evan was.

 

“Evan’s older brother Dillon wrestled for us,” O’Neil said. “He was two years older than Evan. When Evan did not make it to state as a sophomore he was very upset. But when his brother qualified for the first time for state as a senior, the same year, Evan was so proud and so happy for him. His joy for his brother superseded any of his disappointment about not making it himself.”

 

Evan has worked extremely hard to improve every season. The best semistate finish he had up until this year was fourth. This year he broke through by winning the New Castle semistate. He’s hoping this is also the year he gets to wrestle under the lights in the championship match.

 

“My dad has been taking me to the wrestling finals since I was about five years old,” Eldred said. “He would always tell me that someday I could be there. Every single year I went I just dreamed about what that day would be like.

 

“My best wins in high school would be a tie between last year winning on Friday night and knowing I was going to be a state placer – and when I placed at Fargo Nationals two years ago. But getting under the lights would blow both of those two wins away.”

 

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