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Found 8 results

  1. BY JEREMY HINES thehines7@gmail.com If it were all about heart, Bloomington South’s Noah Hunt would likely be a multiple time state champion. But, in life and on the wrestling mat, sometimes heart isn’t enough. Hunt grew up around wrestling. He was naturally gifted in the sport and he spent many nights fine tuning his craft. But, in sixth grade, he decided he had enough. The love just wasn’t there like it used to be. “I was burned out,” Hunt said. “I quit.” Soon Hunt realized that quitting wasn’t part of his character. Being away from the sport showed him how much he actually loved it. Midway through the seventh grade season he returned to wrestling. “I came back with a new mentality,” Hunt said. “I was ready to go. I was ready to get better than ever.” Hunt pushed his body to the limits for the sport. His sophomore year that hard work started to pay dividends. He won sectional and regional and advanced to the Evansville semistate at 120 pounds. That’s when Hunt’s journey of pain, frustration and a quest for redemption began. In the first round of the semistate Hunt hurt his knee. He was nine seconds into his match with Eastern’s Robbie Stein. Hunt shot in and grabbed Stein’s leg. As he was lifting it in the air to secure the single, he stepped wrong and twisted his knee. He knew he was in pain, but he continued to compete. Hunt ended up winning that match in dominating fashion, 9-1. His knee did not feel right, and he knew it - but he had put too much work in to give up. If he was going to get to state, he had to wrestle through the pain and win the next match. Hunt punched his ticket to state the next round, beating Center Grove’s Zak Siddiqui 12-1. Hunt ended up finishing fourth at the semistate, winning two matches with a severely injured knee. He couldn’t wait to wrestle at state the next week. It was a dream come true for him - at least that’s what he thought. The knee injury ended up being worse than Hunt expected. Doctors did an MRI and determined he had completely torn his ACL in his left knee. As much as he begged and pleaded to be able to wrestle at state, the doctors would not release him. “It was a terrible feeling,” Hunt said. “I knew I could wrestle on it, and win. But I wasn’t allowed to.” For Hunt, the road to recovery was a long, painful one. It took six months for him to be fully back to wrestling condition. He missed the entire summer of workouts. He knew while his competition was working on improving - he was working on getting back to the level he was previously. Still, Hunt had a goal to return better than ever - and he did just that. As a junior Hunt had more regular season losses than he did his sophomore year - but by tournament time he was clicking on all cylinders. He won the sectional and regional at 126 pounds. Then, at semistate, he defeated North Posey’s Cameron Fisher, Center Grove’s Peyton Pruett and Evansville Mater Dei’s Matt Lee in succession. He lost the semistate championship to Graham Rooks, 8-3. Hunt won his Friday night match at state, guaranteeing him a placement in the top 8. He beat Ft. Wayne Carroll’s Joel Byman in that Friday night round, but then lost back-to-back matches to Michael DeLaPena and Jordan Slivka. The only thing left for Hunt to wrestle for was seventh or eighth place. There was only one problem - he had hurt his right knee in the previous match. He recognized the feeling, it was almost the same as he had the year before. He decided to wrestle anyway, knowing the pain he was in. This time around, Matt Lee won the match 6-3 - giving Hunt 8th place in the state. A few days later he got the news that he had feared - he had torn his ACL. Six more months of recovery. Six more months of watching everyone else get better. Six more months off the mat. “I just had to focus on what my ultimate goal was,” Hunt said. “I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. I knew I had to work in order to make the most of my senior year.” Hunt’s mom, Melissa, didn’t want him wrestling again. She thought it wasn’t worth it. “She was worried about me hurting myself again,” Hunt said. “I told her I’m sorry, but I have to do it. She wasn’t super thrilled, but she knew this was something I just had to do.” This season Hunt is ranked No. 18 at 138 pounds. He is 32-3 and coming off a dominating sectional performance where he won the championship by eight points. “A state title is pretty much his goal,” Bloomington South coach Mike Runyon said. “We set that goal early on in his career and despite everything he’s went through, that’s still his goal.” Hunt has spent a full year of his high school life recovering from knee injuries. He said the hardest part of returning to the sport was getting his mat awareness back. Once he did that, he feels he’s ready to get the job done. “I never had the thought that this isn’t worth it,” Hunt said. “All I see is wrestling, wrestling, wrestling. I’ve been pushing it as hard as I can. I’ve lost a few. But, if that’s what it takes to make my goals happen, then so be it. I’m there mentally and physically now. If I beat the kids ranked higher than me, some might think it’s an upset - but I won’t. I think I can wrestle with anyone and win.” Bloomington South is a school rich in wrestling tradition. Pictures of past state champions line the wrestling room - a constant reminder of those that have claimed the state’s ultimate prize. Hunt says he looks at those pictures every day, and every day dreams his will be there as well. If so, perhaps no other wrestler in school history has had to overcome as much as he has to get that prize.
  2. BY JEREMY HINES thehines7@gmail.com If it were all about heart, Bloomington South’s Noah Hunt would likely be a multiple time state champion. But, in life and on the wrestling mat, sometimes heart isn’t enough. Hunt grew up around wrestling. He was naturally gifted in the sport and he spent many nights fine tuning his craft. But, in sixth grade, he decided he had enough. The love just wasn’t there like it used to be. “I was burned out,” Hunt said. “I quit.” Soon Hunt realized that quitting wasn’t part of his character. Being away from the sport showed him how much he actually loved it. Midway through the seventh grade season he returned to wrestling. “I came back with a new mentality,” Hunt said. “I was ready to go. I was ready to get better than ever.” Hunt pushed his body to the limits for the sport. His sophomore year that hard work started to pay dividends. He won sectional and regional and advanced to the Evansville semistate at 120 pounds. That’s when Hunt’s journey of pain, frustration and a quest for redemption began. In the first round of the semistate Hunt hurt his knee. He was nine seconds into his match with Eastern’s Robbie Stein. Hunt shot in and grabbed Stein’s leg. As he was lifting it in the air to secure the single, he stepped wrong and twisted his knee. He knew he was in pain, but he continued to compete. Hunt ended up winning that match in dominating fashion, 9-1. His knee did not feel right, and he knew it - but he had put too much work in to give up. If he was going to get to state, he had to wrestle through the pain and win the next match. Hunt punched his ticket to state the next round, beating Center Grove’s Zak Siddiqui 12-1. Hunt ended up finishing fourth at the semistate, winning two matches with a severely injured knee. He couldn’t wait to wrestle at state the next week. It was a dream come true for him - at least that’s what he thought. The knee injury ended up being worse than Hunt expected. Doctors did an MRI and determined he had completely torn his ACL in his left knee. As much as he begged and pleaded to be able to wrestle at state, the doctors would not release him. “It was a terrible feeling,” Hunt said. “I knew I could wrestle on it, and win. But I wasn’t allowed to.” For Hunt, the road to recovery was a long, painful one. It took six months for him to be fully back to wrestling condition. He missed the entire summer of workouts. He knew while his competition was working on improving - he was working on getting back to the level he was previously. Still, Hunt had a goal to return better than ever - and he did just that. As a junior Hunt had more regular season losses than he did his sophomore year - but by tournament time he was clicking on all cylinders. He won the sectional and regional at 126 pounds. Then, at semistate, he defeated North Posey’s Cameron Fisher, Center Grove’s Peyton Pruett and Evansville Mater Dei’s Matt Lee in succession. He lost the semistate championship to Graham Rooks, 8-3. Hunt won his Friday night match at state, guaranteeing him a placement in the top 8. He beat Ft. Wayne Carroll’s Joel Byman in that Friday night round, but then lost back-to-back matches to Michael DeLaPena and Jordan Slivka. The only thing left for Hunt to wrestle for was seventh or eighth place. There was only one problem - he had hurt his right knee in the previous match. He recognized the feeling, it was almost the same as he had the year before. He decided to wrestle anyway, knowing the pain he was in. This time around, Matt Lee won the match 6-3 - giving Hunt 8th place in the state. A few days later he got the news that he had feared - he had torn his ACL. Six more months of recovery. Six more months of watching everyone else get better. Six more months off the mat. “I just had to focus on what my ultimate goal was,” Hunt said. “I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. I knew I had to work in order to make the most of my senior year.” Hunt’s mom, Melissa, didn’t want him wrestling again. She thought it wasn’t worth it. “She was worried about me hurting myself again,” Hunt said. “I told her I’m sorry, but I have to do it. She wasn’t super thrilled, but she knew this was something I just had to do.” This season Hunt is ranked No. 18 at 138 pounds. He is 32-3 and coming off a dominating sectional performance where he won the championship by eight points. “A state title is pretty much his goal,” Bloomington South coach Mike Runyon said. “We set that goal early on in his career and despite everything he’s went through, that’s still his goal.” Hunt has spent a full year of his high school life recovering from knee injuries. He said the hardest part of returning to the sport was getting his mat awareness back. Once he did that, he feels he’s ready to get the job done. “I never had the thought that this isn’t worth it,” Hunt said. “All I see is wrestling, wrestling, wrestling. I’ve been pushing it as hard as I can. I’ve lost a few. But, if that’s what it takes to make my goals happen, then so be it. I’m there mentally and physically now. If I beat the kids ranked higher than me, some might think it’s an upset - but I won’t. I think I can wrestle with anyone and win.” Bloomington South is a school rich in wrestling tradition. Pictures of past state champions line the wrestling room - a constant reminder of those that have claimed the state’s ultimate prize. Hunt says he looks at those pictures every day, and every day dreams his will be there as well. If so, perhaps no other wrestler in school history has had to overcome as much as he has to get that prize. View full article
  3. By JEREMY HINES thehines7@gmail.com Kiave Guerrier isn’t your typical elite-level wrestler. He never went to camps growing up, or clinics. He didn’t wrestle in elementary school or middle school. He hates practicing. Yet going into sectionals he’s undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the state at 182 pounds. “He’s basically self-made,” Guerrier’s Evansville Central coach Mike Lapadat said. “He’s really just a part-time wrestler.” Guerrier’s wrestling story began four years ago when he was sitting in the school’s cafeteria eating lunch. Guerrier asked coach Lapadat how the wrestling team was going to be that season, and about an upcoming meet. “I was telling him that we were going to have to forfeit at 195 pounds,” Lapadat said. “He asked me why we would forfeit, and I explained to him that we didn’t have anyone at that weight. He told me he could wrestle it. I told him that would be great, but he was going to have to start putting on weight.” At the time, Guerrier weighed 170 pounds. Guerrier’s very first match that freshman year came in a dual against one of the top programs in Kentucky -- Union County High School. The match went several overtimes. Guerrier didn’t even know the rules of overtime. He ended up winning the match in sudden death. “After that match I looked at our assistant coach and said that if Kiave doesn’t go to state in his career, we should be fired. I knew right then that this kid was special.” Guerrier’s first love is football. He has verbally committed to the University of Indianapolis. He went out for wrestling just thinking it would help him with football. But, after that first match - he fell in love with the sport. “That match got me hooked,” Guerrier said. “It was a lot of fun and that feeling just really stuck with me. I really liked the sport and wanted to continue with it. I started out not knowing much about it - but I’ve tried to learn quickly.” For Guerrier, one of the hardest parts of wrestling is just making himself get up and go to practice each day. “It was always a big struggle, especially early on,” Guerrier said. “The hardest part was getting to practice. But, once I made myself get there, it became easy.” Despite his premium athletic ability, Guerrier didn’t see himself as a good wrestler early in his career. “I thought I’d be average and it could help me with football,” he said. “Then I started to push myself in practice. I’d do extra work on weekends and sometimes even after meets. Still, I would have never guessed that going into sectionals I would be a No. 1 seed and undefeated.” Now Guerrier’s goals are more lofty. He wants a state championship and feels he is completely capable of getting it. “That’s the goal,” he said. “If I keep working, I know I can win.” Last season Guerrier lost in the ticket round of the Evansville semistate to No. 1 ranked Nathan Walton. The score was 1-0. “Kiave has a very high wrestling IQ,” Lapadat said. “He can watch a move on video and then bring it to the mat. He picks up things very quickly. He studies teh sport. He knows everyone he is going to wrestle and he watches matches on them to study them.” Before wrestling, Guerrier had never competed in an individual sport. “Wrestling was the first sport that if I messed up, it was only because of me,” he said. “It’s one-on-one and there are no excuses. On the mat I know what I need to do, and how I want to do it.” Outside of wrestling Guerrier enjoys nature and working in the communities challenger baseball and track programs. “I have a lot of fun working with the kids in the challenger sports,” he said. “Some people aren’t as blessed as others, and I really love helping them out and making them laugh and watching them have fun. It’s very rewarding.” Guerrier wants to study engineering in college. He does not plan on wrestling past high school. “Knowing my career is almost over is sad,” Guerrier said. “I fell in love with the sport. Wrestling is tough to like, but once you fall in love with it, you’re hooked for life.”
  4. By JEREMY HINES thehines7@gmail.com Kiave Guerrier isn’t your typical elite-level wrestler. He never went to camps growing up, or clinics. He didn’t wrestle in elementary school or middle school. He hates practicing. Yet going into sectionals he’s undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the state at 182 pounds. “He’s basically self-made,” Guerrier’s Evansville Central coach Mike Lapadat said. “He’s really just a part-time wrestler.” Guerrier’s wrestling story began four years ago when he was sitting in the school’s cafeteria eating lunch. Guerrier asked coach Lapadat how the wrestling team was going to be that season, and about an upcoming meet. “I was telling him that we were going to have to forfeit at 195 pounds,” Lapadat said. “He asked me why we would forfeit, and I explained to him that we didn’t have anyone at that weight. He told me he could wrestle it. I told him that would be great, but he was going to have to start putting on weight.” At the time, Guerrier weighed 170 pounds. Guerrier’s very first match that freshman year came in a dual against one of the top programs in Kentucky -- Union County High School. The match went several overtimes. Guerrier didn’t even know the rules of overtime. He ended up winning the match in sudden death. “After that match I looked at our assistant coach and said that if Kiave doesn’t go to state in his career, we should be fired. I knew right then that this kid was special.” Guerrier’s first love is football. He has verbally committed to the University of Indianapolis. He went out for wrestling just thinking it would help him with football. But, after that first match - he fell in love with the sport. “That match got me hooked,” Guerrier said. “It was a lot of fun and that feeling just really stuck with me. I really liked the sport and wanted to continue with it. I started out not knowing much about it - but I’ve tried to learn quickly.” For Guerrier, one of the hardest parts of wrestling is just making himself get up and go to practice each day. “It was always a big struggle, especially early on,” Guerrier said. “The hardest part was getting to practice. But, once I made myself get there, it became easy.” Despite his premium athletic ability, Guerrier didn’t see himself as a good wrestler early in his career. “I thought I’d be average and it could help me with football,” he said. “Then I started to push myself in practice. I’d do extra work on weekends and sometimes even after meets. Still, I would have never guessed that going into sectionals I would be a No. 1 seed and undefeated.” Now Guerrier’s goals are more lofty. He wants a state championship and feels he is completely capable of getting it. “That’s the goal,” he said. “If I keep working, I know I can win.” Last season Guerrier lost in the ticket round of the Evansville semistate to No. 1 ranked Nathan Walton. The score was 1-0. “Kiave has a very high wrestling IQ,” Lapadat said. “He can watch a move on video and then bring it to the mat. He picks up things very quickly. He studies teh sport. He knows everyone he is going to wrestle and he watches matches on them to study them.” Before wrestling, Guerrier had never competed in an individual sport. “Wrestling was the first sport that if I messed up, it was only because of me,” he said. “It’s one-on-one and there are no excuses. On the mat I know what I need to do, and how I want to do it.” Outside of wrestling Guerrier enjoys nature and working in the communities challenger baseball and track programs. “I have a lot of fun working with the kids in the challenger sports,” he said. “Some people aren’t as blessed as others, and I really love helping them out and making them laugh and watching them have fun. It’s very rewarding.” Guerrier wants to study engineering in college. He does not plan on wrestling past high school. “Knowing my career is almost over is sad,” Guerrier said. “I fell in love with the sport. Wrestling is tough to like, but once you fall in love with it, you’re hooked for life.” View full article
  5. Brought to you by EI Sports By JEREMY HINES Thehines7@gmail.com Two wrestlers. That is all Monrovia’s high school team had competing in the first meet of the season. A few months later the Bulldogs were claiming third place at Team State, with 22 wrestlers on the roster. That is typical for wrestling at Monrovia, a powerhouse football school. The Bulldogs highly encourage wrestlers to play football, and football players to wrestle. They believe the two sports go hand-in-hand. Monrovia won the class 2A football state championship on November 28. That was one week after the school’s first wrestling meet. “We went from two kids to 22 after football was over,” Monrovia coach Kevin Blundell said. “I get a lot of freshmen and sophomores that have never wrestled before. The kids that wrestle are really good on the football field. They say wrestling helps them. The football coach pushes all the linemen, especially, to wrestle.” Monrovia is used to early struggles in wrestling. Kids come in after football in football shape, not in wrestling shape. “It’s harder than what you think to get these guys in wrestling shape,” Blundell said. “A lot of people see a running back and think he’s in shape. But wrestling is a totally different thing. It’s challenging. A lot of these kids come in way over weight. We focus initially on getting in shape, and then we start to hit the technique side in practice.” Junior Garrison Lee, the team’s only returning state qualifier, is a prime example. Lee was the starting fullback on the football team. Any time the Bulldogs needed five yards on the ground, Lee was their go-to-guy. But he came in to wrestling quite a bit over weight and not at all ready to go three long periods on the mat with an opponent. “He was a monster,” Blundell said. “I didn’t think he would make 195. I think I talked to him at football regionals and asked him what he was weighing, and he just told me that I didn’t want to know.” Eventually the Monrovia wrestlers settled in to their weight classes, and then the successes started rolling. The team had three champions at the Mooresville sectional, and sent six to regional. Lee won regional, with sophomore Brycen Denny finishing third at 106 pounds and 220 pounder Dristin McCubbins, a senior, finishing second. “Brycen (39-2) has worked very hard to get to where he’s at,” Blundell said. “He’s been in football forever, but he’s only 106 pounds so he decided this season he’s just going to wrestle. Then the team wins state. But he’s still happy with the decision he made. It was what was best for him. “Garrison was our only qualifier last year. He knows what he needs to do. He’s been there and lost a really close match last year. He has had that lingering in his mind. He’s has a motor on him and he’s mentally tough.” Also advancing for the Bulldogs is Dristin’s younger brother Riley, a 29-11 sophomore heavyweight. “When Riley qualified I was very happy to see that,” Dristin said. “We became the first brothers in Monrovia history to both qualify for semistate at the same time.” For Blundell, those early days with just two wrestlers competing seem like a distant memory. He knows that will probably always be the case at Monrovia, where football reigns supreme. But he’s fine with that. He knows, once football is over, wrestling really begins. “This is a school where the parents are really great,” Blundell said. “They don’t want their kids sitting around doing nothing, so they put them in a lot of sports. They push their kids to do their best and they give me a green light to do whatever we need to do. This is a football school, but we’re becoming a wrestling school as well.”
  6. Brought to you by EI Sports By JEREMY HINES Thehines7@gmail.com Two wrestlers. That is all Monrovia’s high school team had competing in the first meet of the season. A few months later the Bulldogs were claiming third place at Team State, with 22 wrestlers on the roster. That is typical for wrestling at Monrovia, a powerhouse football school. The Bulldogs highly encourage wrestlers to play football, and football players to wrestle. They believe the two sports go hand-in-hand. Monrovia won the class 2A football state championship on November 28. That was one week after the school’s first wrestling meet. “We went from two kids to 22 after football was over,” Monrovia coach Kevin Blundell said. “I get a lot of freshmen and sophomores that have never wrestled before. The kids that wrestle are really good on the football field. They say wrestling helps them. The football coach pushes all the linemen, especially, to wrestle.” Monrovia is used to early struggles in wrestling. Kids come in after football in football shape, not in wrestling shape. “It’s harder than what you think to get these guys in wrestling shape,” Blundell said. “A lot of people see a running back and think he’s in shape. But wrestling is a totally different thing. It’s challenging. A lot of these kids come in way over weight. We focus initially on getting in shape, and then we start to hit the technique side in practice.” Junior Garrison Lee, the team’s only returning state qualifier, is a prime example. Lee was the starting fullback on the football team. Any time the Bulldogs needed five yards on the ground, Lee was their go-to-guy. But he came in to wrestling quite a bit over weight and not at all ready to go three long periods on the mat with an opponent. “He was a monster,” Blundell said. “I didn’t think he would make 195. I think I talked to him at football regionals and asked him what he was weighing, and he just told me that I didn’t want to know.” Eventually the Monrovia wrestlers settled in to their weight classes, and then the successes started rolling. The team had three champions at the Mooresville sectional, and sent six to regional. Lee won regional, with sophomore Brycen Denny finishing third at 106 pounds and 220 pounder Dristin McCubbins, a senior, finishing second. “Brycen (39-2) has worked very hard to get to where he’s at,” Blundell said. “He’s been in football forever, but he’s only 106 pounds so he decided this season he’s just going to wrestle. Then the team wins state. But he’s still happy with the decision he made. It was what was best for him. “Garrison was our only qualifier last year. He knows what he needs to do. He’s been there and lost a really close match last year. He has had that lingering in his mind. He’s has a motor on him and he’s mentally tough.” Also advancing for the Bulldogs is Dristin’s younger brother Riley, a 29-11 sophomore heavyweight. “When Riley qualified I was very happy to see that,” Dristin said. “We became the first brothers in Monrovia history to both qualify for semistate at the same time.” For Blundell, those early days with just two wrestlers competing seem like a distant memory. He knows that will probably always be the case at Monrovia, where football reigns supreme. But he’s fine with that. He knows, once football is over, wrestling really begins. “This is a school where the parents are really great,” Blundell said. “They don’t want their kids sitting around doing nothing, so they put them in a lot of sports. They push their kids to do their best and they give me a green light to do whatever we need to do. This is a football school, but we’re becoming a wrestling school as well.” Click here to view the article
  7. Brought to you by EI Sports By JEREMY HINES jerhines@cinergymetro.net East Noble seniors Connor Knapp and Garrett Pepple weren’t exactly friends their freshman year. In fact, they didn’t even like each other much. The two were competing for the same varsity spot at 106 pounds. It was a position they both wanted badly. Ultimately, Knapp won the weight class and Pepple spent most of the season on the junior varsity squad. Knapp went on to qualify for state as a freshman. “My goal going into my freshman year was to qualify for state,” Pepple said. “I wanted to have a good record, too. But we had a solid team and I only weighed about 100 pounds. I had multiple chances to earn a spot. Connor and I wrestled off once, and he beat me. Then I went up to 113 pounds and I won the spot, until our 120 pounder dropped down and took it from me. “When you compete for a spot with someone it’s hard to be close friends. There was a little hate between us.” The next year, things changed. Knapp moved up to 113 pounds and Pepple stayed at 106. The two were no longer competing for the same spot, and they started to become friends. That season Pepple made a huge stride. He went from a JV wrestler the year before, to finishing second in the state as a sophomore. Knapp placed 4th. “At first we didn’t really talk much at all,” Knapp said. “But the next year we started to become friends. We started training together. Now he’s like my brother.” The two seniors began pushing each other to get better. Pepple is considered a very good top wrestler, and Knapp needed work on bottom. Pepple’s top work helped. “Garrett is really good on top,” Knapp said. “A lot of the stuff he does is what some of the top guys I go up against are going to do. He gives me a good idea of how to counter things. Pretty much in every position there are certain things he can do that normal wrestlers wouldn’t have the confidence to do. We both have our advantages and that helps push both of us.” As juniors Pepple placed second at 113 pounds. Knapp finished third at 120. “After finishing second my sophomore year I was happy with that,” Pepple said. “Maybe I was even a little complacent. But my junior year, my goal was a state championship and nothing else. Placing second still haunts me. I don’t want it to happen again.” Pepple says he has been much more focused this season. He is the No. 1 ranked 113 pounder in the state. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of what it could be like to win a state championship,” Pepple said. “My dream, my goal is to be a state champ. That’s all I can think about. I’ve visualized myself winning so many times. I walk around my room just thinking about it for hours. I have even planned my celebration if I win. It won’t be anything cocky, but I’ll definitely celebrate if I can win it.” Both wrestlers are pushing each other to get better in the room. East Noble has had only one state champion before. Pepple and Knapp wants to change that. “Iron sharpens iron,” Pepple said. “It’s great to have such a tough drill partner who is going to push you to be your best.” Outside of school Knapp loves to draw action pictures. It’s a talent not many know about. He is also an elementary school teaching assistant. He works one-on-one with children, and he said it’s something he absolutely loves doing. As far as the future, he is still trying to decide what he wants to do. “I’m trying to decide on whether I want to wrestle in college or not,” Knapp said. “I’d like to be a Force Recon Marine. I’ve dreamed about that my whole life. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Now I think, why not – I have the tools.” Pepple plans to attend Indiana University where he wants to wrestle. He is either going into the medical field, business or education. Pepple says the biggest turning point so far in his career was when he shattered his lower leg playing sharks and minnows in practice before his freshman season. He broke two bones, and had to have multiple screws put in along with a metal plate to stabilize it. “I didn’t know if I’d ever wrestle again,” he said. “But I worked hard and came back. That showed me I can overcome anything.” Both wrestlers are hoping they can overcome all of the obstacles the state tournament presents, and stand together as state champions. If you have a #WrestlingWednesday idea, please contact Jeremy Hines at jerhines@cinergymetro.net.
  8. Brought to you by EI Sports By JEREMY HINES jerhines@cinergymetro.net East Noble seniors Connor Knapp and Garrett Pepple weren’t exactly friends their freshman year. In fact, they didn’t even like each other much. The two were competing for the same varsity spot at 106 pounds. It was a position they both wanted badly. Ultimately, Knapp won the weight class and Pepple spent most of the season on the junior varsity squad. Knapp went on to qualify for state as a freshman. “My goal going into my freshman year was to qualify for state,” Pepple said. “I wanted to have a good record, too. But we had a solid team and I only weighed about 100 pounds. I had multiple chances to earn a spot. Connor and I wrestled off once, and he beat me. Then I went up to 113 pounds and I won the spot, until our 120 pounder dropped down and took it from me. “When you compete for a spot with someone it’s hard to be close friends. There was a little hate between us.” The next year, things changed. Knapp moved up to 113 pounds and Pepple stayed at 106. The two were no longer competing for the same spot, and they started to become friends. That season Pepple made a huge stride. He went from a JV wrestler the year before, to finishing second in the state as a sophomore. Knapp placed 4th. “At first we didn’t really talk much at all,” Knapp said. “But the next year we started to become friends. We started training together. Now he’s like my brother.” The two seniors began pushing each other to get better. Pepple is considered a very good top wrestler, and Knapp needed work on bottom. Pepple’s top work helped. “Garrett is really good on top,” Knapp said. “A lot of the stuff he does is what some of the top guys I go up against are going to do. He gives me a good idea of how to counter things. Pretty much in every position there are certain things he can do that normal wrestlers wouldn’t have the confidence to do. We both have our advantages and that helps push both of us.” As juniors Pepple placed second at 113 pounds. Knapp finished third at 120. “After finishing second my sophomore year I was happy with that,” Pepple said. “Maybe I was even a little complacent. But my junior year, my goal was a state championship and nothing else. Placing second still haunts me. I don’t want it to happen again.” Pepple says he has been much more focused this season. He is the No. 1 ranked 113 pounder in the state. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of what it could be like to win a state championship,” Pepple said. “My dream, my goal is to be a state champ. That’s all I can think about. I’ve visualized myself winning so many times. I walk around my room just thinking about it for hours. I have even planned my celebration if I win. It won’t be anything cocky, but I’ll definitely celebrate if I can win it.” Both wrestlers are pushing each other to get better in the room. East Noble has had only one state champion before. Pepple and Knapp wants to change that. “Iron sharpens iron,” Pepple said. “It’s great to have such a tough drill partner who is going to push you to be your best.” Outside of school Knapp loves to draw action pictures. It’s a talent not many know about. He is also an elementary school teaching assistant. He works one-on-one with children, and he said it’s something he absolutely loves doing. As far as the future, he is still trying to decide what he wants to do. “I’m trying to decide on whether I want to wrestle in college or not,” Knapp said. “I’d like to be a Force Recon Marine. I’ve dreamed about that my whole life. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Now I think, why not – I have the tools.” Pepple plans to attend Indiana University where he wants to wrestle. He is either going into the medical field, business or education. Pepple says the biggest turning point so far in his career was when he shattered his lower leg playing sharks and minnows in practice before his freshman season. He broke two bones, and had to have multiple screws put in along with a metal plate to stabilize it. “I didn’t know if I’d ever wrestle again,” he said. “But I worked hard and came back. That showed me I can overcome anything.” Both wrestlers are hoping they can overcome all of the obstacles the state tournament presents, and stand together as state champions. If you have a #WrestlingWednesday idea, please contact Jeremy Hines at jerhines@cinergymetro.net. Click here to view the article
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