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  • #WrestleLikeAGirl with Jeremy Hines: O'neill family grows from wrestling

    By JEREMY HINES
    Thehines7@gmail.com
     
    Warren Central senior Kiersten O’Neill has had quite an illustrious wrestling career. She recently won her third Indiana High School Girls Wrestling state title and did so in dominating fashion. Not bad for a girl that doesn’t like to wrestle, really doesn’t enjoy practicing and sometimes doesn’t even get along with her coach.
     
    “Yeah, I don’t really like wrestling, per se,” O’Neill said. “But I love the environment of the sport and the energy it holds. That’s what keeps me attached to it.”
     
    O’Neill’s coach is her own father, Jake.
     
    “It doesn’t surprise me that she says that,” Jake said. “If you ask most coaches/ dads, it’s tough coaching your own kids. As a coach you hold your athletes to high expectations and not that I don’t do that as a dad, but when they fall short of those expectations it can bleed into home. It’s tough to draw those lines and keep those frustrations in the room and on the mat and not let it affect what’s going on at home.”
     
    Jake has always pushed Kiersten to be her best in the sport – and, although at times she’s gotten frustrated with her dad as a coach, she sees it has been in her best interest.
     
    “My dad and I would get into it a lot,” Kiersten said. “Coach and wrestler, father and daughter is a very different dynamic. There have been points where I was like, this is too hard, I can’t do that. I wanted to stop, but I kept going. I think if he wasn’t as present as he is though, it wouldn’t be the same and I wouldn’t have the successes I’ve had.”
     
    Kiersten’s brother started wrestling when he was 4 years old. He ultimately decided that wasn’t the sport for him.
     
    “I made my son wrestle when he was four,” Jake said. “By the time he was a freshman he ended up playing basketball and that’s about the same time Kiersten was like, dad, I’ll wrestle. I was like, oh, yeah, you’re probably going to be pretty good, too. I think she was six at the time.
     
    “Her journey in wrestling gave me a perspective on women’s wrestling that I never had before and I wouldn’t have had if she didn’t wrestle.”
     
    Kiersten won the state meet as a freshman, then placed second as a sophomore. She won as a junior and last weekend she beat her opponent 17-3 in the championship.
     
    She would like to wrestle in college and eventually she would like to follow in her father’s footsteps and coach wrestling.
     
    For Kiersten, and for many of the female wrestlers we write about in these articles, there becomes an unusually strong bond between opponents. Kiersten’s best friends are wrestlers on rival schools.
     
    “Cailin and Catie (Campbell) are my best friends since I started wrestling,” Kiersten said. “We live far apart but we always make sure we see each other. I talk to them every day. It’s been great to experience that with other people that share your same interests. I think if you watch the finals you can see my reaction after Caty won her state title. I was screaming ‘That’s my best friend’.”
     
    Kiersten also plays soccer. She admits that her wrestling aggression sometimes gets her in trouble on the soccer field.
     
    “Yeah, I’ve had quite a few yellow and red cards,” she said. “Soccer, to me, is a lot of running. But the aggression I get from being a wrestler definitely helps me. I’m not exactly proud of my yellow and red cards, I just think I underestimate my strength some against girls that don’t wrestle.”
     
    Jake really enjoys watching Kiersten on the soccer field, where he can relax and be a dad and not a coach.
     
    “Her wrestling absolutely comes out in soccer,” Jake said. “She’s very competitive, aggressive and physical. She is fearless. It all spills out on the soccer field and it’s fun to watch. The other girls aren’t nearly as aggressive as her. Our athletic director was a professional soccer player. When he saw her play he was like ‘woah’. He was blown out of the water with the competitive edge she plays with. I enjoy every minute of watching her play.”

    In wrestling, Kiersten is excited for what the future for girls is like in the state. Every year the numbers increase. If she had one piece of advise for girls just starting out in the sport it would be to stick to it.
     
    “You just have to stick to it,” she said. “You can’t give up, even when it’s hard. I know it gets hard and I’ve not enjoyed that time. But stick it out. Push through. It will be worth it in the end.”
     

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    IndianaMat Gorilla Radio Episode 123

    Mike and Joe recap the first weekend of conference match-ups, preview the week ahead. They go into a deep dive into the big Crown Point vs. Mount Carmel dual on Friday.
     
     
     

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    High School Wrestling Weekly Season 3 Episode 11

    Rex, Dane, and AJ talk a look back at the Girls state finals along with other wrestling, and are joined this week by guests Blaine Culp and Andy Oberlin.

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    #WrestlingWednesday with Jeremy Hines: Ruhlman motivated to be under the lights again

    By JEREMY HINES
    Thehines7@gmail.com
     
    Delaney Ruhlman doesn’t let things get to him. That’s part of who he is. So, last year when he lost to Indiana legend-in-the-making, Jesse Mendez in the state championship match, Ruhlman didn’t sulk.
     
    Sure, the loss hurt. It hurt badly. He could have been the first state champion his coach, Mike Runyon had ever had in his 15 years at Bloomington South. But Ruhlman knew he had to pick himself up and go support his older brother, Tristan who was wrestling for the title at 220 pounds.
     
    “I needed to be completely there for him even after I lost,” Delaney said. “I was so excited to watch him wrestle.”
     
    As it turns out, the older Ruhlman dominated the finals. He won the championship in convincing fashion, 10-2. He became Runyon’s first champion. He finished the season 27-0, and his biggest supporter couldn’t have been happier.
     
    “Just knowing my brother and I were going to the finals together was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt,” Delaney said.
     
    This season Delaney is ranked No. 3 at 152 pounds, behind Crown Point’s Sam Goin and Zionsville freshman Anthony Rinehart.
     
    “At any given day it could be a different result with any of those top four or five guys in the weight class,” Runyon said. “It is a matter of who is on their game coming up through the tournament series. It depends a lot on the draw and that sort of thing. It’s going to be a really interesting year at that weight class.”
     
    Delaney says he is more motivated than ever to get back under the lights.
     
    “Last year, I feel that just motivated me more,” Delaney said. “It made me push myself more. I want to become a state champ this year. I have to keep putting gin the work and my chances will be pretty good as long as I stick to what I need to improve on.”
     
    Runyon describes Delaney as an explosive wrestler, but slightly different than Tristan on the mat.
     
    “Delaney will wait to strike, and when he goes, he goes hard,” Runyon said. “Delaney is explosive, but he picks his spots to be. Tristan was just explosive all the time.”
     
    Delaney is uncertain what he wants to do after high school, but he did go on an official visit to Purdue recently. Tristan wrestles for Purdue. Delaney wants to go into the medical field.
     
    “Delaney is just very laid back,” Runyon said. “he’s a great kid. He handles adversity like nobody’s business. If there is anything that comes up out of the ordinary, he just brushes it off. He does that with losses too. I think he’s upset with himself, but it’s like, hey, let’s just go to the next step and get over this.”
     
    When he’s not wrestling, Delaney enjoys hunting and fishing and working out.

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    #MondayMatness with Steve Krah: Peru’s May hopes to reap dividends of varied mat experience

    By STEVE KRAH
    stvkrh905@gmail.com

    An increase in aggressiveness and confidence has Peru High School’s Jalen May shooting for high achievement in his second high school wrestling season.
    The son three-time IHSAA State Finals Placer Nic May (sixth in 2000-2001 at 103 pounds; third at 112 in 2001-02 and second at 112 in 2002-03, losing in the finals to Lawrence North’s Reece Humphries), Tigers sophomore Jalen May gets plenty of encouragement and pointers from his father.
    “He always tells me to work hard,” says Jalen of his father who is No. 2 on the all-time Peru win list at 159-5 (2005 graduate Daric Fuller is tops at 168-16). “He would do anything to wrestle again. He tells me all the work will be worth it. Only I know how hard I can push myself.
    “We have a mat in our basement and try to wrestle around four times a week and focus on one move.”
    Jalen May went 25-6 at 106 as a freshman in 2020-21. Along the way he topped eventual state champion Ashton Jackson 7-4 at the Western Triple Dual.
    “That shows Jalen can wrestle at that level,” says Andy Hobbs, Peru’s head coach since 1996.
    May lost in the “ticket” round at the 2020-21 Fort Wayne Semistate.
    “My freshman year I was a little naive,” says May, who is currently 25-3 as a sophomore 106-pounder. “That semistate opened my eyes.
    “I’m a lot more aggressive (since last high school season) and my confidence has gone up. I used to be scared to wrestle certain people and now I’m always ready to go.
    “I always try to stay positive in the practice room, on meet days or while I’m working out to lose a little bit of weight.”
    In 2021-22, May lost in the 106 semifinals of Mishawaka’s Al Smith Classic to Crown Point freshman Gavin Jendreas (May beat Jendreas 1-0 at the 2021 IndianaMat Hoosier Preseason Open aka IHPO) and placed third.
    “It went alright,” says May. “I expected to do better. I know I’ll see (Jendreas) again this year.”
    Hobbs and his staff want to keep May challenged.
    “I’m getting ready for the state tournament,” says May. (Coaches) like me to have good matches. They’d rather me have a good match and lose than pin the kid in 30 seconds.”
    Hobbs, a 1986 Tipton High School graduate, coached Nic May and saw him go to Ken Chertow camps in the off-season.
    Jalen May, who says he really increased his drive for wrestling in the seventh grade, has gone to Chertow and Jay Robinson camps, travel team practices, club practices in Kokomo and with Central Indiana Academy in Indianapolis.
    “Jalen has had a lot more experiences (than his father),” says Hobbs. “He’s doing all the right things. He’s getting all the experience it takes to make a run at it.
    “He’s well-rounded wrestler and just a very fluid athlete. He’s wide open. We’re trying to get him to expand the playbook. He can do so many things. It’s a simple sport, but it’s really difficult.”
    May says his go-to takedown move is a high-crotch.
    His regular workout partner this season has been junior Cooper Baldwin (138).
    “It helps you a lot (to drill with a bigger athlete),” says May. “When I do wrestle somebody my size it’s a lot easier.”
    How does May benefit Baldwin?
    “Cooper is hard-working,” says May. “I have really good technique. I help him with that. He’ll feel my aggressive side.”
    Like the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association State Duals, May has bumped up in weight to try to help the Tigers and challenge himself.
    “It got me a little better wrestling bigger kids in six-minute matches,” says May.
    Jalen is the oldest of Nic and Ashley May’s four children ahead of brother Josh, sister Mischalay and brother Nicholas Jr. The family resides in Peru.
    Post-high school plans for Jalen currently call for wrestling and studying law in college.
    “My grandma (Jodi May) works at a law firm in Kokomo and one of our assistants Dustin Kern is a city attorney in Peru,” says May. “I’ve always thought it’s cool. It’s a very interesting job.”
    Peru’s remaining schedule includes the Three Rivers Conference meet Saturday, Jan. 22 at Maconaquah. The Tigers’ IHSAA state tournament series path goes through the Jan. 29 Maconaquah Sectional, Feb. 5 Maconaquah Regional, Feb. 12 Fort Wayne Semistate and Feb. 18-19 State Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.  

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    • #WrestleLikeAGirl with Jeremy Hines: O'neill family grows from wrestling

      #WrestleLikeAGirl with Jeremy Hines: O'neill family grows from wrestling

    • IndianaMat Gorilla Radio Episode 123

      IndianaMat Gorilla Radio Episode 123

    • High School Wrestling Weekly Season 3 Episode 11

      High School Wrestling Weekly Season 3 Episode 11

    • #WrestlingWednesday with Jeremy Hines: Ruhlman motivated to be under the lights again

      #WrestlingWednesday with Jeremy Hines: Ruhlman motivated to be under the lights again

    • #MondayMatness with Steve Krah: Peru’s May hopes to reap dividends of varied mat experience

      #MondayMatness with Steve Krah: Peru’s May hopes to reap dividends of varied mat experience

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