"People just don't understand how hard it is," stated Bellmont's now Hall of Fame wrestling coach Brent Faurote on the amount of sweat and pain that wrestlers have to endure in order to climb up on the podium Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"There's no question that wrestling in Indiana has gotten a lot tougher over the years. There are so many more good wrestlers and coaches than in years past. And then you have to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions. On Friday, we were happy for the three kids that won and advanced, but we were sad with Bobby (Keuneke) after he lost when he wrestled well enough to win. I think only wrestling coaches can understand that side of the sport," said Faurote, who was inducted as a coach into the Indiana State Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame Sunday along with Tim Myers, who entered as a wrestler.
It's tough, and yet Bellmont under Faurote has had incredibly consistent success, to the tune of 525 wins and just 58 losses despite a schedule that 95 percent of the coaches would sprint away from. And that doesn't reflect the riches in postseason success that defines Bellmont wrestling.
Adams Central has had plenty of success over the years and is now officially back from its lull under Doug Schultz, dominating the ACAC this year. And what about the job that Eric Myers and his staff have done at South Adams, lifting that program to where it had never been before? The state runner-up finish Saturday by South Adams' now all-time best wrestler, Todd Batt, is a direct result of that process.
There were some disappointments for the group of eight county wrestlers who competed this past weekend, but there were also some surprises. Batt got a break when unbeaten Neal Molloy of Danville was knocked off in the quarter-finals, then he took advantage of that break to get under the lights. South Adams frosh Sawyer Miller beat two strong wrestlers to earn his fourth place. Bellmont's Ben Baker continued his high caliber performance among the elite 195-pounders despite having been a regular in the lineup for a season and a half.
The toughest loss of the tourney for the locals was Keuneke's gaffe late in his battle with Mater Dei's Sam Goebel. Keuneke wrestled well, but was behind going into the third when he cradled Goebel for a 10-6 lead with less than a minute to go. With Coach Faurote screaming 'No, no, no,' Keuneke regrouped for cradle No. 2, apparently in an effort to get a fall, and Goebel eventually stepped through and flattened Keuneke.
"Everything had worked so well for Bobby the last few weeks, and that maybe gave him a false sense that he could do about anything he wanted," explained BHS assistant coach Paul Gunsett.
The pressure-packed tourney is tough for the wrestlers to deal with. A dingy gym in Mishawaka is not the same as a 20,000 seat fieldhouse. Bellmont's Brad Busse struggled with the state collar, but woke up in the final seconds to secure the key win Friday night. He lost his next two matches.
"I told Busse that we have only one spot on the wall for eighth place. 'If you get eighth, I'm putting it up in crayon,'" he joked prior to Busse's pin of Muncie South's Corey Crabtree in the consolation match for seventh.
No pressure there!
In Batt's third state try, he roared through with three wins to get his prize. "When I get things all tallied up, he's going to be atop of about every list South Adams has," noted Myers. Batt's 152 wins is No. 1 there, as are his 83 falls. "I'm certain he'll have the takedown mark as well," said Myers.
Myers' insistence this past week that his wrestlers not be satisfied with a state showing took root. Batt's goal was to make top four, and he didn't let that stop him from making the top two.
Perry Meridian's Jared McKinley kept him from the top spot. "I knew before the first takedown, when he had that Russian tie on me ... that he was a freak, and I was in trouble," admitted Batt, who dropped from his season-long weight of 138 to go 132 for the tourney.
"I was a small 138-pounder and here I was a small 132-pounder," said Batt. McKinley's rock solid physique was a stark contrast to the normal-looking Batt.
Four of the local boys lost to state champs, including AC's Chantz Luginbill on Friday night, going down 19-6 to Brian Harvey of Cathedral at 160. Luginbill, down 6-3, was in deep on a double-leg shot in a move that could have tightened that match early. Harvey was too good.
"(Mitch) Sliga told me I was one of the few who went six minutes with him," said Baker of the 195-pound, 9-2, semi-final loss. Sliga pinned Kourtney Berry of Merrillville in the title match. Jason Tsirtsis took out Brooks Faurote, then tech-falled Cathedral's Corsaro in the 145-pound finals.
Brooks felt tremendous pressure to win Friday night and secure a state place. Rotten luck, such as the broken hand last year and the two-point nearfall instead of three against the eventual state champ two years ago at semistate, kept the BHS standout from cutting a bigger state path.
His 141 wins and 84 falls puts Brooks on the top 10 list at Bellmont, and that's keeping some mighty fine company.
"There's no doubt my son could have been a three-time state placer," said dad. "He watched three kids he had beaten get their medals two years ago, and last year he got here but just didn't have the strength with the broken hand.
"It was special Friday night when he won that match. He knows he accomplished a lot, walking out of here with a medal in the tough 145-pound class, and I'm proud of what he did.
"We've had a great history at Bellmont High School, but Brooks and I have done something that no others have ever done. We've never had a father and son to be on the wall together. We will now," said Brent, state champ in 1981 as a junior, and fourth place as a senior at 105, at Bellmont.
Assistant coach Tim Myers sees something very special in Brooks. "I've never coached a kid quite like Brooks, who has that attitude. It just makes be grin when I see a little of that attitude come out. He's special. My son (Duke) asked me last night if Brooks is going to wrestle in college. Brooks is undecided, but I said 'Yes he is!' He is very capable, considering what he's put into it," said Myers.
Brooks, the other state wrestlers and a bunch more of their teammates have proven that they are capable ... of doing big things.
That's a fact!