Adams County will have a strong group of 12 representatives Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse as the 73rd edition of the IHSAA State Individual Wrestling Finals begins with a 5:35 p.m. Parade of Champions.
At 6 p.m., it will be all business as half the field will be eliminated Friday night.
Two of the 12 face returning state runners-up, and South Adams' TJ Burnfield will meet defending 145-pound champ Eric Roach of Crown Point. A few more face wrestlers who defeated them earlier in the year.
"I'm just going to give it my all and leave it all out there on the mat. Whatever happens, happens," stated Bellmont junior Brooks Faurote, one of three country wrestlers to overcome a broken hand and make it to state.
Faurote will meet 43-2 Blake Rueger of Evansville Reitz. Rueger placed eighth last year at 135.
Burnfield broke a finger early in the year and came back for the final two meets prior to the tourney. Faurote took three weeks off after surgery to repair his left hand and has been wrestling with a brace. AC's Cody Walburn suffered a broken hand and made it back for the sectional, then struggled with his conditioning, but persevered.
Walburn will meet 45-1 Paul Petrov of Hanover Central on Friday. Petrov was runner-up to two-time champ Cody Phillips of Union County last year at 103.
"I just have to wrestle me best and not underestimate myself," noted Walburn.
"Last year I lost in overtime in the ticket round (at semistate) and I worked hard to make it this far, but missing half the season messed me up."
"Cody knows he has a tough one, but he's got a positive attitude, just like our other two. That's the guy that's there, that's the guy he has to wrestle, and he'll do his best," stated Central coach Doug Schultz.
At 152 pounds, the Jets' Jarod Schwartz will make his second state finals appearance and will be looking for his first placement. He faces 34-2 Josh Flamme of Crown Point on Friday. Junior Derek Roe, one of three county wrestlers whose fathers won state titles, will face a wrestler that defeated him 5-4 earlier in the year, Levi Moss of Ben Davis.
"Flamme is definitely a quality wrestler, but he's not unbeatable by any means. If I get by him, I'll probably have a Perry Meridian wrestler I faced at Folkstyle state last summer. I was ahead 5-0 and got headlocked," recalled Schwartz of his match with Eric Johnson.
Roe remembers not being able to escape from the legs of Moss. "I beat him on my feet and had a couple of shots I just didn't finish, then he goes for the legs and rides me out. I've been studying tape and doing everything I can to get ready and make sure that doesn't happen again," said Roe, whose dad, Troy Roe, won a title in 1985.
Bellmont has a couple of returning state placers who should be big factors in their classes, as will 171-pound Ryley Hankenson, who also returns to state. Daniel Meyer is 43-0 and has been rated the No. 1 heavyweight all year after finishing fourth a year ago. Bellmont's Travis Thatcher, seventh last year at 189, has been rated in the top four most of this season at 215.
Hankenson, with just a pair of one-point losses to other top wrestlers in his class, faces a wrestler he defeated earlier 12-5 in Austin Warren of Castle. The winner in his quarter-bracket is 45-0 junior Tanner Lynde of Delphi.
"It's not ever going to be easy at state, and there are a lot of undefeated kids," noted Hankenson, who feels that his close matches with defending state champ Drake Stein of Princeton and Jackson Bratcher of Eastbrook "prove that I can wrestle with anyone."
Todd Batt placed fourth for the Stars last week, losing for the first time in six matches to Bluffton's Philip Gerber. However, he faces 43-6 Baron Rieker of Columbus East on Friday.
"Rieker was beaten by Alex Catron of New Castle 8-2 during the season and Todd was up 4-0 in a match against Catron when he pinned him in the second period. So, to have beaten a kid that his opponent lost to is a real confidence boost. Todd still needs to go out and wrestle the best match that he has to win," stated coach Eric Myers.
The two going to state for SA ties for the second most in school history.