This past wrestling season saw all four county teams finish near .500 or better in dual meets, but it was the emergence of two wrestlers – Frankfort senior Hugo Perez and Clinton Central junior Jeff Scott – that stands out among everything else in the 2012-13 wrestling season.
Both advanced to the Indiana High School Athletic Association state finals, with Perez (42-4) finishing fourth at 132 pounds and Scott (37-4) losing in the first round at 170 pounds.
“Looking at the picture of our Wall of Fame, I was trying to count how many people have placed higher than Hugo,” said Frankfort head coach Richard Sallee. “We’ve had three state champions and 3-4 other guys that have placed higher than him in the state finals. He’s definitely one of the best in Frankfort High School history, and it’s an impressive feat for someone who didn’t wrestle until the eighth grade.”
Perez graduates with three regional titles, one sectional title, one Sagamore Athletic Conference title and four county titles.
Scott’s first match at the state finals came against Fort Wayne North’s Anthony Linnear, who finished third in the state last year – a veteran of the finals atmosphere while Scott was a first-time competitor.
Linnear’s experience proved to be an advantage, pinning Scott in 59 seconds.
“We worked all week on moving our feet and being quick, and trying to get his kid out of position and I thought we were doing a pretty good job of it,” said Central head coach Austin Faulkner. “We didn’t clear an arm quick enough, took a bad shot and he capitalized on it. He’s been around awhile and knows what he’s doing. You have to minimize mistakes at that level.”
Scott finishes his season with a county and Hoosier Heartland Conference titles, to go along with runner-up finishes in the sectional and regional, and a third-place finish in the semistate.
Scott’s the third Bulldog under Faulkner to reach the state finals, following Frankie Crew in 2006 and Tye Bowman in 2007. It’s hard to compare the three wrestlers – Bowman wrestled at 119 pounds, Scott wrestles at 170 and Crew was a heavyweight.
“All three of them worked their butts off and they had a tremendous amount of ability on top of it,” Faulkner said. “They all just had natural wrestling talent and put a tremendous amount of time and effort into it.”
While those two had tons of success this season, there were also a number of other standouts. Frankfort senior Cameron Risse (29-9) was a semistate qualifier, as was Central junior Adam Miller (28-11). The Bulldogs had two other regional qualifiers in freshman Caleb Archibald and junior Wyatt Lucas.
Central also won the Hoosier Heartland Conference title and the Tri-West Invitational.
The Bulldogs only lose four seniors from this year’s team, meaning the future is bright in Michigantown.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” Faulkner said. “They still got to put their time in the weight room and get in the wrestling room in the offseason. There are probably about 10 guys that came down to watch Jeff and they got to see the arena, got to see the four mats and the big show. They were elated. They couldn’t believe it. Maybe that will spark their interest with the hope of one day making it down there.”
Clinton Prairie senior Tyler Casey finished his senior year with a 26-4 record, including a Hoosier Heartland Conference title. Casey was seeded second in the sectional, but ran into a tough field and lost his first two matches of the day.
Among the Gopher wrestlers, junior Nathan Moore was the only other wrestler to finish above .500, finishing 19-16. Junior Brandon Wilhite was 13-13 and sophomore Lars Hovde was 14-17.
Rossville had one regional qualifier in sophomore Adam Easterday (29-13). Easterday was a bit of a surprise there, but had a breakout sophomore year where he also won the conference title and the Maconaquah Invitational.
“Adam, as far as his ability, is the best on the team,” said head coach Mike Fadness. “I could count on a win pretty much every time he stepped onto the mat. A lot of those losses came from the War on the Wabash. He’s a real technical wrestler.”
If there’s one county squad which could far surpass this year’s record next year, it’s the Hornets. They return nearly every varsity wrestler, including freshman Tyler Fadness (26-14), sophomore Jocey Martin (21-17), sophomore Austin Rangel (12-10), junior Jake Guffey (14-12) and freshman Kyler Crow (15-10).
“We’re just getting started with our club wrestling, and hopefully we get them plugged into AAU and get some more mat time underneath their belt,” Mike Fadness said. “We’ve got a good set of eighth graders coming up that are really good – between all three of them there are only two losses.
“We’re trying to build something special here, trying to put Rossville on the map.”
Mike Fadness said the toughest match was his son Trenton’s final one, which came in the fifth-place bout in the sectional.
“It was pretty emotional. That was a tough time,” Mike Fadness said.
Frankfort’s sectional roster had freshmen at 106, 113, 120, 126 and 160 pounds. While their first postseasons didn’t go particularly, the fact that so many freshman saw time this year could bode well for future years.
“Those guys all went and watched Hugo wrestle in the state finals and next day they’re at Southmont wrestling,” Sallee said. “They’re dedicated guys. With some hard work this summer, hopefully they’ll come back and keep us from having a yo-yo type of season.”
The 160-pounder, Alex Ragains, is the most promising of the lot. A middle school state champion, he finished with a 17-17 record.
“There’s a big difference between being a freshman at 106 than 160,” Sallee said. “His body will start the mature and he’ll grow into his body. The sky’s the limit as long as he’s willing to put in the time and effort like he has been for the last couple of years.”
Easterday qualifies for regionals
Rossville sophomore Adam Easterday was a regional qualifier this season.