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Kokomo wrestlers enjoy fantastic day
February 12, 2012North Central Conference
Fort Wayne — The intense pressure of the big stage at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum yielded great results for Kokomo’s wrestling team Saturday as three Wildkats survived the Fort Wayne Individual Semistate to punch tickets to the state finals.
Kokomo seniors Jesse Goodnight, Bo Butler and Cameron Colby, along with Peru sophomore Evan Loe, will wrestle in Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday after fighting their way to the state finals at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. Colby and Goodnight are returning to state for the second straight season.
“For our seniors Jesse and Cam and Bo to come in here and get the wins and place top four and move on, it’s really cool to take three guys to state next week,” Kokomo coach Ryan Wells said. “Those guys just grinded through. They were beat up, they just persevered all day long, all week long, all season long. They’ve accomplished one of their big goals, getting to the state finals.”
Goodnight improved to 51-2 on the season en route to the championship. He beat Fremont’s Ricky Short by pin in the opening round, beat Carroll of Allen County’s Riley Lefever 3-1 in the second round, the ticket round for state, then pinned Union City’s Kyle Walters by pin in the semifinal, and won the 160-pound championship 5-1 over Leo’s Isaac Steury.
“It was really tough,” Goodnight said. “I’m just really excited that I finally won semistate.”
Goodnight finished second at the 2011 semistate.
“Combined with the experience of actually going to Conseco last year, or it’s Banker’s Life now, and what I went through [Saturday] I feel like I’m very well prepared and I feel like I’m going to do really well [at state],” Goodnight said.
He earned his spot at state in pain Saturday after getting kicked in the face in his second match and taking a knee to the chest in the third match.
“Jesse has just been nails all year long,” Wells said. “We knew he was going to be one of the best wrestlers in the state. We knew he was capable of beating anybody. He’s put the time in to make that happen. He went out and really dominated the day.
“Jesse got hurt in a couple matches and grinded through and found ways to win and forgot about the pain and wrestled really well all day long.”
His championship level showed in the final match, where he held on to a 2-0 lead for most of the contest, then got hit with a stalling point while on bottom in the third period. Almost instantly, he ripped away for an escape point, then scored another takedown for the final 5-1 scoreline.
“It was just a lot of willpower,” Goodnight said of the title tilt. “It feels good to know all the practice is paying off.”
Butler suffered his first defeat of the year in the 195-pound final, a 6-0 loss to Bellmont’s Ben Baker, but had already done the hard work to get to state. Butler (52-1) beat Fort Wayne Wayne’s Kanez Omar 15-0 in the opening round, outlasted Jay County’s Kyle Garringer 2-1 in overtime in the second round to reach state, and went overtime again for a 3-2 win over Carroll of Allen County’s Spencer Raypole in the semifinal
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” Butler said of making state. “It feels great, I’ve never done it. After winning that second match you know you’re going to state and it really hasn’t hit me yet.
“It’s my senior year I don’t get a shot at it again, it’s over after this. That’s been my goal since my freshman year, just getting there. I’m just happy I’m just there really. The bonus part, that I get a third seed next week, is even better.”
In the opening round at state, second-place finishers meet third-place finishers from other semistates, while semistate champs and fourth-place finishers are also paired off.
“Bo, he was lights out all day,” Wells said. “He had a tough match [with] the Garringer kid in the ticket round. We didn’t want to get away from our game plan. Bo went out and wrestled his match, didn’t change his style for anybody, came up here and scored some points when he needed to and got some really big wins. Lost one in the finals, but we’ll see a No. 3 next Friday and a great day for him, too.”
Now that Butler has seen what it takes at this level, he has an idea what it will take to survive next week.
“You’ve just got to know that you’re wrestling kids that are as good as you or better,” he said. “You’ve got to go out there and wrestle at 100 percent every time, you can not make any type of wrong move or you’re done, you’ll lose.”
Colby (48-1) made it to state with a 9-0 victory over Blackford’s Isaac Rogers in the first round and a pin of DeKalb’s Bayley Coleman with three seconds left in the ticket-round match. Then the Wildkat 220-pounder ran into unbeaten Southern Wells senior Seth Biberstine, who scored a pin 60 seconds into their semifinal. No wrestler made it through the first period against Bieberstine as he flattened opponents en route to the championship.
In the third-place match, Colby was in control and scored a 7-3 victory over Leo’s Nolan Wilson.
“This semistate’s a meat grinder, there’s no doubt about it,” Colby said. “It’s rough. Just to make it out of the ticket round is a great feeling and everything else you’re just adding on top.
“Same place I got last year, [now I’m] just anxious to see what my draw is, scout my opponent a little bit and find out what I have to do to come home with another medal.”
Colby was third at the semistate last year and finished eighth at state.
“Cameron, [after] making it to state last year, had some pressure on him to do it again and he really stepped up and lived up to the hype that everybody was giving him,” Wells said. “[He] wrestled the Bieberstine kid in the semis and that kid is unbelievable. That’s one of the best, strongest, most impressive 220-pounders I’ve seen in a real long time. Cam wrestled great the rest of the day and earned a third-place finish. He’s wrestled great all year long, couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Wells, a former Wildkat grappler, didn’t know the last time Kokomo took as many as three wrestlers to state. For the three Kats, who posed for pictures together on the podium at the end of the day, having company at state made the day even better. Kokomo will also compete in the team state finals in two weeks.
“It’s definitely been a record year this year at Kokomo for wrestling,” Colby said. “It’s just a testament to Ryan Wells, how good of a coach he is, what he puts us through and how the hard work pays off.”