Wyatt Woodall was a man on a mission this past wrestling season for the Southmont Mounties for many reasons. The first being that as many know the story by now, Woodall’s sophomore season was cut short due to a knee injury that forced him to withdraw from semi-state and miss the opportunity to qualify for the State Finals. This season Woodall wanted to go out and show everyone that he was one of the best in the state at 195 pounds.
He steamrolled through the competition this winter on his way to a, Sagamore Conference, sectional and regional titles. He entered the New Castle semi-state with an unblemished record of 32-0 and saw his first loss of the season come in a narrow 5-3 decision over Roncalli’s Luke Hansen who was the 4th ranked wrestler at 195 pounds in the state. Even with the loss, Woodall punched his ticket to the State Finals for the first time in his career.
On that Friday night at the state finals, Woodall fell in his opening match to Elkhart’s Nash Shupert as he saw his season come to an end with an overall record of 35-2.
“I told myself that I was going to be at the State Finals this year,” Woodall said. “Everyone has goals of being there and unfortunately it wasn’t in god’s plan my sophomore year. That only made me more hungry coming into this year. I really began to take my training seriously and that started in the weight room and transitioned into the wrestling room. Our coaching staff does a great job of putting us to work every single day and making sure we have the best in-shape wrestlers out there on the mat.”
With all of his success on the mat this past season and establishing himself as one of the top 195 pound wrestlers in the state, Woodall is the 2022-23 Journal Review Wrestler of the Year.
Longtime Southmont Hall of Fame coach Jamie Welliever had a front row seat to Woodall’s success and saw the hard work and determination that his superstar wrestler put in every single day to get to where he is.
“Wyatt continues to improve day after day and year after year,” Welliever said. “Sometimes with a great athlete like he is, they might get stagnant, but not him. Wrestling has a lot to do with wrestling yourself and what’s going on in your head. He had to battle a little extra with going through that injury last year, but he’s a very mature young man and was able to overcome that pretty easily. He pushed himself and was his own motivator really all season long.”
While Woodall envisioned placing on the podium and getting to wrestle on that Saturday at Gainbrdige Fieldhouse, he also knows that what he got to experience and achieve is something that only a total of 224 wrestlers in the state get to be apart of.
“Everyone that gets there is in the top 1% of the state,” he said. “It’s everyone’s dream to get there and participate in that parade of champions and get to stand down on that floor and do what I got to do. I was able to pick up and learn so many valuable lessons just from being there. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.”
The State Finals appearance for Woodall was another appearance for the Mounties as Wyatt’s older brother Riley Woodall took home 7th place back in 2021. Welliever noted how a school the size of Southmont to continue to send wrestlers to the state’s highest level.
“When you look at our history, we’ve only had a select few that weren’t seniors get there,” he said. “It’s not only huge for Wyatt to get there, but also for his teammates. The hope is that next year we can have one or more guys join him. This group of juniors that we got (Brier Riggle, Maddox Cade, Marlin Williams) really feed off of each other. This accomplishment for Wyatt hopefully allows those other guys to realize they can get there too.”
Something that is also to Woodall’s benefit is that 10 of the 16 wrestlers that were in the 195 bracket at the State Finals were seniors. The goal for Woodall’s senior year is crystal clear as he explains.
“Ever since I entered high school, I told myself that I was going to stand atop that podium,” he said. “It’s been the goal since day one and I feel like talent wise and coaching wise I can do it. To do that it starts in the off-season. I’ll have to do more than I did last year. It’s going to be my senior year so I’m going to have to leave it all out there. I know there will be no more chances.”
Welliever just like Woodall knows that the stage is set just right for him to see his senior season be the best one yet.
“Not getting on that podium will be something that motivates him all season long next year,” Welliever said. “He was oh so close, but fell short and we’re all hoping that he can get back to that point and do something about it because we know how talented of a wrestler that he is.”
As stated before by Welliever, Woodall doesn’t need much extra motivation, but when you give him some, it can be a scary sight. Only time will tell what Woodall is able to accomplish on the mat in his final season. However a trip to Gainbridge Fieldhouse again is likely in store for the superstar Mountie.
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