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Wrestling: State Finals Preview
February 18, 2011By Rich Torres of VYPE MAGAZINE - Central Indiana
Among the 224 high school wrestlers partaking in this weekend’s 73rd Annual IHSAA Individual Wrestling State Finals, five of last year’s champions return. Six former state champions will compete and 31 wrestlers will attempt to carry their perfect records into championship Saturday.
Two wrestlers have their sights set on history. Cody Phillips of Union County and Jason Tsirtsis of Crown Point will seek to join the three-timer club, winning their third consecutive state titles this weekend.
Who will be the 14 best of 2010-11? We’ll find out under the spotlight.
There are only two unbeaten wrestlers in this bracket, and fittingly, they are ranked one-two. Bloomington South’s Jacob Boomsma is a perfect 44-0, ranked second and making his third trip to the state finals. Lawrence North’s Nathan Boston is a flawless 42-0 as a freshman and the top-ranked wrestler at 103-pounds entering Friday night.
- Among the 16 contenders, 12 are ranked and three have prior state experience: Boomsma, third-ranked Brock Bevans (45-3) of Yorktown, and seventh-ranked Danny Hamm (52-4) of Prairie Heights (8th at 103 in 2009-10).
- If Lawrence North’s Nathan Boston wins the 103-pound title on Saturday night, it will mark the program’s first freshman state champion and first 103-pound champ since Nick Hartman (47-0) in 2001-02.
- If Boomsma wins, the state title will push Bloomington South’s record-leading individual state championship total to 67. Hammond is second on the all-time list with 27 champions.
Loaded is one way to describe this bracket. Unpredictable is another. Before last weekend’s semi-state tournaments, two-time state champion Cody Phillips (39-1) of Union County was the odds on favorite to win it all. But after the top-ranked wrestler lost by decision to second-ranked Mason Todd (28-0) of Pendleton Heights at New Castle, all bets are off. Nine of the state’s top 10 wrestlers occupy seeds and the top five all have two or fewer losses.
- Other than Phillips, six wrestlers enter with prior state finals experience: No. 7 Alonzo Shepherd (48-1) of Jeffersonville, No. 3 Paul Petrov (45-1) of Hanover Central, Todd of Pendleton Heights, No. 12 Abraham Que (43-0) of Elkhart Central, No. 4 Jared Brooks (27-1) of Warsaw, and Luke Schroeder (48-2) of Southwestern (Hanover).
- If Phillips wins his third straight state title, he will become the tournament’s 25th three-time champion all time.
- Luke Schroeder has committed to wrestle at Purdue University.
A state champion at 112 pounds last year, Lake Central’s Kyle Ayersman is making his third trip to Conseco Fieldhouse in search of another big finish. The junior carries an unblemished 48-0 record, the state’s top ranking and hasn’t placed lower than third at state. Once again, he will face plenty of competition with 13 ranked wrestlers, including eight former state qualifiers.
- New Castle’s Brenden Campbell placed third at 112 pounds last February. Ranked second, the junior is the only other undefeated wrestler in the bracket at 51-0.
- Ayersman is trying to become the second wrestler in school history to win back-to-back state titles. Lake Central’s Michael Escobedo was the last to achieve the feat (145 pounds, 2000-01; 152 pounds, 2001-02).
- Other than Campbell, six other wrestlers are entering as two-time state qualifiers: No. 5 Josh Farrell (37-3) of Greenfield-Central, No. 10 Luke Welch (46-1) of Castle, No. 17 Garth Simpson (40-7) of Rochester, No. 8 Levi Moss (37-4) of Ben Davis, No. 3 Anthony McHugh (40-3) of Culver Academies and No. 14 Gideon Vanhook (39-6) of Evansville Reitz.
The numbers say it all. Eight of the state’s top-10 ranked wrestlers hold spots in this bracket. Three are former state-place winners and 10 are former state qualifiers. The most decorated of the contenders is Roncalli’s Justin Kieffer, a three-time place winner and the state’s second-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds. Perry Meridian’s Jared McKinley is a three-time state qualifier and has only one loss this season – to Kieffer by decision.
- Third-ranked Layten Binion (41-1) of Mishawaka is a two-time state qualifier. His only loss this year is to McKinley by decision 7-0.
- McKinley, who placed 4th at 112 pounds last year, was ranked 18th nationally prior to the postseason.
- Kieffer has never placed lower than 5th at state in his career. He has committed to the University of Indianapolis.
Three wrestlers enter state with perfect records and six have previous state experience on their side. Of the flawless trio, Cathedral’s Brian Harvey has the deepest resume, finishing 6th at 103 and 112 pounds in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Harvey holds the state’s top ranking at 130 pounds.
- Second-ranked Travis Barroquillo (52-0) of Prairie Heights is making his third trip to state. Last year, the Indiana Tech recruit finished 7th at 125 pounds.
- Third-ranked Neal Malloy (46-0) of Danville is a two-time state qualifier. Ninth-ranked Michael Brown (41-6) of Castle, eighth-ranked Jonathon Hoehn (40-5) of Mount Vernon, and fourth-ranked Taylor Wisler (40-4) of Mishawaka are also two-time state qualifiers.
Experience is busting at the seams in this bracket. In all, 13 of the contenders are ranked and four have placed fourth or higher the past two years. Third-ranked Ethan Raley (30-1) of Indian Creek is the lone former state champion. In 2007-08, he won the 103-pound state title and was runner-up at 125 last February. Top-ranked Devon Jackson (48-0) of Yorktown was state runner-up at 130 a year ago.
- Raley is a four-time state qualifier. Second-ranked Justin Kieffer (40-0) is also making his fourth trip to Conseco Fieldhouse. Kieffer, a three-time state-place winner, has committed to the University of Indianapolis.
- Jackson and fourth-ranked Alex Gregory (46-0) of Penn are making their third state finals appearances. Gregory was 4th at 112 pounds in 2008-09.
- Two-time state qualifiers in the bracket include: seventh-ranked Isaiah Bradley (34-5) of Muncie Southside, ninth-ranked Byron Konrath (35-4) of Mount Vernon and sixth-ranked Luis Acuna (24-4) of Portage.
Top-ranked Jason Tsirtsis (38-0) of Crown Point is halfway to his goal – matching older brother Alex Tsirtsis’ four individual state titles (Griffith 2001-04). After winning his second consecutive state title last February, a third would give Crown Point its first three-time champion and Tsirtsis his second undefeated state championship. The competition will be fierce, however, with seven of the state’s top eight wrestlers occupying the bracket.
- Ten wrestlers are making their first state finals appearance.
- Besides Tsirtsis, third-ranked Blake Rueger (43-2) of Evansville Reitz and second-ranked Phelan Montgomery (38-0) of Terre Haute South are making their third consecutive state appearances.
- Fifth-ranked Matthew Rattay (42-3) of Lawrence North, Cole Van Horn (17-5) of Yorktown and fourth-ranked Bradley Wartman (42-2) of Lake Central are two-time state qualifiers.
- If Tsirtsis wins a third consecutive state title (and Cody Phillips prevails at 112 pounds), he will become the 26th three-time champion in tournament history.
No introductions will be necessary for six of this bracket’s top wrestlers. Weighed down by 12 ranked contenders, the top six are multiple state qualifiers and three are former place winners. Among the trio, top-ranked Eric Roach (38-0) of Crown Point remains the wrestler to beat. A state runner-up at 130 pounds as a freshman, Roach placed 4th at 135 in 2008-09 and won it all at 145 pounds last year.
- Second-ranked Andrew Hiestand (47-2) of Yorktown is a three-time state qualifier and placed 6th at 125 pounds in 2008-09. Fifth-ranked Quincy Richey (31-2) of Brown County is a three-time state qualifier and was 8th at 130 pounds two years ago.
- Fourth-ranked Renaldo Weekley (47-1) of Jeffersonville, sixth-ranked Laquan Lunford (43-2) of South Bend Clay and third-ranked Grant Scurria (39-1) of Carmel are two-time state qualifiers.
- Eric Roach has committed to wrestle at Indiana University.
If perfection is the key to success, sixth-ranked Reece Lefever (40-0) of Carroll (Fort Wayne) has the edge. If prior state experience is the measure of a champion, look no further than top-ranked Doug Welch (46-1) of Castle, third-ranked Conner Mullins (49-2) of New Castle, fourth-ranked Montrail Johnson (45-1) of Tri-Central, and fifth-ranked Kirk Johnson (47-1) of Perry Meridian. But they’re not alone. Seven wrestlers have past tournament appearances to draw from and 10 of the 16 are ranked in the top 18.
- Welch, a three-time state qualifier, has placed every year at state (2nd at 145 pounds in 2009-10; 5th at 135 pounds in 2008-09).
- Kirk Johnson, a two-time state qualifier, placed fourth at 140 pounds in 2009-10.
- Montrail Johnson, a two-time state qualifier, placed sixth at 145 pounds in 2009-10.
- Mullins is a three-time state qualifier and placed third at 130 pounds last year and 5th at 112 in 2008-09.
- Sixth-ranked Reece Lefever is an Indiana Tech recruit.
Top-ranked Chad Welch (47-0) of Castle brings a perfect record to the state finals, but four others are former state-place winners. The top six wrestlers in the state hold seeds and 11 of the 16 contenders are ranked. Fifth-ranked Anthony Quiroz (30-0) of Chesterton was runner-up at 152 pounds in 2008-09, and Cathedral’s second-ranked Tyler Willis (42-1) returns after finishing runner-up at 160 pounds last February.
- Willis, a three-time state qualifier, was a member of Cathedral’s Class 4A IHSAA state championship football team this past November.
- Welch, a four-time state qualifier, placed third at 152 pounds in 2009-10.
- Third-ranked John Sims (18-5) of Evansville Mater Dei is a four-time state qualifier. He placed 6th as a freshman at 125 pounds; 4th as a sophomore at 140; and was 5th at 145 pounds in 2009-10.
- Fourth-ranked Conner Lefever (40-0) of Carroll (Fort Wayne) has committed to Indiana Tech.
Top-ranked Drake Stein (42-0) of Princeton is gunning for his second consecutive state title and first undefeated championship in his career. The three-time state qualifier will face some stern competition with 13 ranked wrestlers set to lock up and three other wrestlers carrying undefeated records into state: third-ranked Tanner Lynde (45-0) of Delphi, sixth-ranked Nicholas Manning (30-0) of South Dearborn, and second-ranked Jackson Bratcher (41-0) of Eastbrook.
- Jeffrey Enrietto (34-6) of Carroll (Fort Wayne) has committed to Indiana Tech.
- Bratcher, a three-time state qualifier and third-place finisher at 171 pounds last year, has committed to Northern Illinois.
- Fifth-ranked Michael Smith (44-2) of North Central (Indianapolis) is a three-time state qualifier.
- Ninth-ranked Dustin Parrish (29-5) of Plainfield is a two-time state qualifier. He placed sixth at 152 pounds in 2009-10.
This bracket is packed with two-time state qualifiers. In all, six wrestlers are making their second trek to Conseco Fieldhouse and among the experienced half-dozen, three return as former state-place winners. Top-ranked Mitch Sliga (33-0) of Fishers placed third at 189 pounds last year and was a triple-crown All-American at Fargo this past summer. Second-ranked Aaron Stevenson (38-0) of Indian Creek placed third at 189 pounds two years ago.
- Sliga was a starting fullback for the Class 5A IHSAA state football champions. The title was Fishers’ first in football.
- Sixth-ranked Josh Boots (39-2) of Evansville Mater Dei is a two-time state qualifier and placed 4th at 171 pounds in 2009-10.
- Third-ranked Kourtney Berry (43-0) of Merrillville is one of three wrestlers at 189 with an undefeated record.
- Scott Neff (37-5) of Yorktown, Brandon Dillenbeck (40-4) of Goshen and Eric Johnson (41-4) of Highland are two-time state qualifiers.
The lone undefeated wrestler in the bracket, top-ranked Trey Reese (28-0) of Indian Creek, is aiming to become the fifth consecutive unbeaten 215-pound state champion. A two-time state qualifier, Reese placed 5th at 160 pounds in 2009-10. Nine wrestlers in the bracket are ranked, but only four have prior state experience.
- Reese was the starting quarterback for the Class 3A Indian Creek Braves. The senior helped lead the program to its first regional title and second sectional title all-time.
- Third-ranked Travis Thatcher (36-2) of Bellmont is a three-time state qualifier. He placed 7th at 189 pounds last year.
- Logan Cooper (46-3) of Perry Meridian and fifth-ranked Joe Gallegos (41-4) of South Bend Clay are two-time state qualifiers.
Only three state qualifiers from last year’s bracket return to vie for the crown. Eleven of this year’s contenders are ranked and 13 are first-time state qualifiers. Top-ranked Daniel Meyer (43-0) of Bellmont carries an undefeated record into the mix and looks to become the sixth consecutive unbeaten heavyweight state champion. He won’t be alone, however, as fourth-ranked Willie Henson (39-0) of North Central (Indianapolis) and third-ranked Kaden Suter (20-0) of Martinsville will be eying the same goal.
- Second-ranked Damon Howe (33-2) of Plymouth is a two-time state qualifier and placed 5th at 285 pounds last year.
- Meyer is a three-time state qualifier. He placed fourth at 285 pounds in 2009-10.
- Eight of the state’s top 10 wrestlers occupy seeds in this year’s bracket.
Individual rankings information provided by IndianaMat.com