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Starfires' state points no accident
We were reminded exactly how tough it is to score at the IHSAA State Wrestling finals last Friday when four of the six county competitors were defeated in the opening round. The fact that South Adams adanced its two entries is a testimony to how far Eric Myers has brought that program.
Congratulations go to Sawyer Miller for gaining a second top-four place in the first two years of his prep career with his third at 113 pounds, and to Lane Moser for his placement at 120 pounds.
In talking to Moser after he received his medal, it became clear why South Adams is having this success. Moser wasn't a great wrestler out of the box and had a so-so middle school career. A lot of hard work and coaching care produced some excellent high school numbers and he closed things out at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, medal in hand.
"All the extra work I did in the summers before my sophomore and junior years with was what helped turn things around for me," said Moser.
"I just wanted to make it to state, that was my goal. I knew it wasn't going to happen unless I started working harder and harder.
"Myers is a real good coach. He went with me to every tournament the last four years. He's my favorite coach by far. He does know what he's doing in the room and out of the room," praised Moser.
With Miller coming back next year, as well as Klayton Hinshaw at 170, and the solid job that South Adams did in the Fort Wayne Semistate, the Starfires are likely a lock to get another invitation to the Class A Coaches Team Championships in December.
Of the four locals who lost Friday night, the closest and strangest match was Brad Busse's loss to Seth Riley of Fishers, a fourth-place semistate finisher. Riley took Busse down twice early, but the Bellmonter came back to lead, and had Riley on his back for some time in period two, but didn't get the call. Somehow, Riley reversed Busse, who rolled out, but was caught again and pinned.
Riley was not done, pinning Ryan Jankowski of South Bend St. Joe, and then he had Jake Masengale down 10-4 midway through the third period of the semi-final. Masengale came back to win by pin to earn his finals spot.
AC's Ben Pfister lost 5-2 to Brian Wagner of New Palestine in that same weight. Wagner was beaten by eventual champ Matt Hurford of Culver Community. Hurford, who finished his career 178-11, was my pick for Outstanding Wrestling in the tourney. Wagner beat Riley for third place.
Overall, the wrestlers put on a great show in the finals with a host of close matches. Mitch Sliga of Fishers repeated as a champ, barreling through the 195-pound class with three falls and a major. His 107th career fall, in 31 seconds, brought him the title. Sliga will wrestle for Northwestern next year.
The 220-pound champ was Gelen Robinson, an unbeaten junior from Lake Central. When it was pointed out to me that he was the son of former Purdue basketball standout Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson, I took a strong look, then penciled in Gelen as my pick at that weight. He just looked like too much of an athlete for about anyone to handle. He won the division with four decisions, only one a major.
Gelen has a brother on the Michigan basketball team, frosh Glenn Robinson III. Apparently, Purdue did not have a scholarship ready in hand when it was time for Glenn to sign, as he had intended. Then Michigan came calling.
Perry Meridian flexed its muscle with three titles and 102.5 points to run away from the field for a third-straight team crown, though Yorktown made a strong run up to the semi-final round.
I'm betting the IHSAA will reverse its sorry decision not to count points on Friday night. There is NO logic to that stance, at least none that was explained to me.
Friedt ... Knew When To Hold 'Em
A lot of praise was heaped on the late John Friedt for his coaching and mentoring skills during his 38 years serving Bellmont wrestling. Friedt was inducted into the Indiana H.S. Coaches Association Hall of Fame Sunday.
There are a good many men like John, who passionately dedicate themselves to helping boys develop into great athletes and good young men. However, Friedt was very special, and really, REALLY knew wrestling.
A story that BHS coach Paul Gunsett tells illustrate's John's depth. It was about 1983, four years before Bellmont claimed its first state wrestling crown.
"When we were in middle school, something happened, and we weren't given something we were supposed to get. John went to Mr. (Craig) Anderson and pressed him. 'This is the team that is going to win the state title some day, and you're doing this to this team!' He was always like that. John knew what we had way back in middle school, that we had the group that could do it. That was 30 years ago," told Gunsett, who played a role on two BHS state title teams.
John liked to be a quiet leader, who made his suggestions without a lot of flair, though he was persuasive. However, I remember one Monday night in November of 1993 when John showed he had some fire.
John's son, Dan, had beaten about everyone in the field at his weight, and should have received the No. 1 seed in the AC Sectional. Back then, a bad draw at sectional was hard to overcome.
It didn't work out that way. One of the weaker wrestlers got No. 1, and Dan was put in the same bracket with the other top wrestler in the weight. John was visibly upset, and let it be known.
"We thought we had earned the No. 1 seed. It went to a vote, and we didn't get it. John was so disturbed by that I don't think he slept that night. That was as mad as I ever saw John get," said BHS coach Brent Faurote.
John was really hurt, not only because Dan got the short stick, but because of the very idea that this was his reward for 20 years of hard work in the sport.
"We went to work the next day to prove them wrong, and Dan finished sixth at the state meet that year," remembered Faurote with a smile.
No surprise there.