BRONZE FINISHâ€”Starsâ€™ 113-pound senior Sawyer Miller (left) celebrates his win over East Nobleâ€™s Connor Knapp in the third-place match in Saturdayâ€™s state mat tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Photo by Jim Hopkins)
INDIANAPOLIS — Sawyer Miller lost three matches this season, but he avenged two of them last weekend at the 75th IHSAA State Wrestling Finals, claiming the first-ever third place for South Adams while becoming the first Starfires wrestler to earn a pair of state medals.
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Senior SA wrestler Lane Moser couldn't add to his Friday victory, but took eighth place for the Starfires in a very competitive 120-pound division.
Perry Meridian, which lost the team lead to Yorktown during the Saturday morning round, rebounded strong in the upper weights in the quarter-finals, then piled up 102.5 points with three individual crowns, earning a third straight team state championship.
Yorktown, which faded in the semi-finals, took runner-up position with 62 points and no titles with a surprising Mishawaka third at 53 points. East Noble, with runner-up Garrett Pepple at 106, took 13th with 26 points.
Miller avenged an earlier loss to Jack Chastain of Hamilton Southeastern Friday night, then in the consolation finals for third place at 113 pounds, Miller hit an overtime takedown for a 5-3 win over East Noble's Connor Knapp. Miller fell to Knapp just last week at semi-state, in the semis, 12-2.
"Last week I was kind of out of it and I wasn't wrestling my best," said Miller, who finished fourth at 106 last year.
"Yes, (Knapp) faced a lot different wrestler this week," admitted Miller.
"Sawyer was on today, with the exception of wrestling maybe the best wrestler here, period, he was on top of his game," stated Starfires coach Eric Myers, referring to the semi-finals loss to two-time state champ Stevan Micic of Hanover Central.
"Sawyer becomes the first two-time placer in South Adams history, and he does it in his first two years of high school.
"We talked to him about going back to the stuff that he was best at, and it worked. You can just tell by his attitude and his focus that he is a gamer. He gets to this level, and he was ready to step up to it. He had an awesome tournament, and we're very happy with his performance," said Coach Myers.
Miller utilized an aggressive low single-leg attack, and drove through his foes' defense to secure key takedowns throughout the tourney.
"The low singles and low shots, they worked very well for me. I really know what to do once I get in there because that's the most common position I get into after a shot, underneath," explained Miller, who nipped Damon Kuhn of Evansville Reitz 4-3 Saturday morning.
Micic caught and felled Miller in 47 seconds in the semis.
Moser won 2-0 on Friday night and was unable to notch any more wins, losing 7-2 to Bailey LaHue of Corydon Central, and then 3-0 in the wrestle-backs to Adam Garcia of Merrillville. He was caught late in his consolation match by Andrice Martin of Franklin Central.
"We would have liked for LJ win one today, and his goal was to be in the top four, but he definitely wanted to wrestle on Saturday, and he was in all three matches but couldn't get it done," offered Myers.
"It's pretty cool," said Moser of his eighth place medal. "I wish I would've placed higher, but stuff happens. I'm excited about it."
"From where he started to where he ended, from that perspective, I can't be anything but happy for him," praised Myers.
"He was just an OK middle school wrestler and he turned himself into an eighth place finisher at state. I can't be anything but proud of the kid.
The other four Adams County entrants in the state finals were eliminated Friday night. Bellmont's Brad Busse had his foe on his back at 182 pounds, but was reversed and pinned. All three Adams Central wrestlers, including seniors Cody Walburn at 126 and Ben Pfister at 182, were defeated. Sophomore Kaine Luginbill at 160 was also ousted Friday night.
Busse's foe, Seth Riley of Fishers, won his next match by fall and had Perry's Jake Masengale down 10-4 in the semis, but was turned late and pinned.
In the key quarter-final, Miller yielded a first-period takedown to Kuhn and could not shake loose. He took down Kuhn in period two and rode him out to tie the match.
Miller shook free in period three, but immediately turned and went for the legs, and eventually got the reversal. He yielded a penalty point for an illegal move on a leg, but held for the 4-3 win, giving the sophomore 113-pounder a shot at improving on his fourth-place finish in 2012.