Wrestling State Finals Preview

Woodall and Williams ready for State Finals


Southmont wrestling seniors Wyatt Woodall and Marlin Williams are not backing down from the challenge that lies ahead of them. After both qualifying for the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals, which get underway Friday at the Ford Center in Evansville, both Woodall and Williams will get to represent the Mounties and cap off their careers in style.

Williams, who comes in as the 25th ranked wrestler in the state  at 144, placed fourth at the New Castle semi-state last Saturday and will see a tough opening match on Friday when he takes on Mishawaka’s Zar Walker who comes in with a record of 43-1 and sits at the No. 6 ranked wrestler at 144. Despite coming in as the underdog, Williams knows that he has the ability to wrestle anyone he steps on the mat with.

“You can only game plan for guys so much so I’m just focused on what I need to do to wrestle my best,” Williams said. “It’s going to come down to me working on my attack, my defense and sticking to the game plan that’s gotten me here. I know I have to take it one match at a time and it even boils down to one period at a time at this point.  I have goals of what I want to do, but I can’t look ahead to any of that and just have to stay locked in on the moment.”

It will be Williams first time at the state finals and he’ll get to enjoy the experience with his best friend in Woodall who will be making his second straight appearance. A season ago Woodall was bested on the opening night and this time now with knowing what to expect of the bright lights and pageantry, Woodall is seeking a much better outcome this time around.
“Last year was a surreal experience with it being my first time,” he said. “It was kind of like a deer in the headlights type thing and now this year I fully know what to expect. I think something that’s going to help me more than anything is getting to have Marlin with me. Being there by yourself, sometimes you can get in your own head, but having him there with me will allow me to stay relaxed.”

Despite Woodall finishing as a the runner-up a week ago at 215 and holding an overall record of 30-1 and being the 13th ranked wrestler at 215, he still got the short end of the stick with his opening match. He drew McCutcheon’s Cole Chicoine who is 38-1 on the season and the second ranked wrestler at 215. Chicoine’s only loss came to the top ranked Will Clark of Crown Point in the semi-finals of the semi-state last week.

“Just like Marlin, I have to focus on my game plan and be able to execute my style of wrestling,” Woodall said of the matchup. “At this point when you get to the state finals, every single kid you wrestle is going to be good. I’m extremely confident in my abilities and I want to go into this thing hoping to put on a good show. It won’t be easy but that’s what makes it more rewarding.”

While both Williams and Woodall have tough opening round matches, they’ve also both beat very tough competition to get here. In the ticket round of the semi-state last Saturday, Williams secured a pin over Pendleton Heights Jack Todd who was ranked second at the semi-state. It’s not only the wins that have given the duo confidence but Williams notes it’s also the close losses against those tough wrestlers that shows him that he’s right there.

“I think those close losses against the top ranked guys give me more confidence then some of the wins,” he said. “If a couple of different things go my way then I know I could win. I think those type of matches and results pushes me further and it’s what I’m thinking about while I’m getting better in the wrestling room during practice.”

With Southmont sending multiple wrestlers to the state finals, they get to carry on the tradition of excellence that they’ve been building these last four years with Woodall and Williams and other being pillars of that excellence. Being able to represent Southmont is something that both of them aren’t taking lightly.

“This weekend is going to be a culmination of all the hard work we’ve put in and getting here validates that both Marlin and I have busted our tails every single day,” Woodall said. “It’s not just in wrestling but in all the athletics that we do and our schooling. We’re back now to where the goals that we have our starting to become the results and it’s going to be an exciting weekend.”

Williams and Woodall will participate in the parade of champions down in Evansville which gets underway at 12:30 p.m. (central) and 1:30 p.m. (eastern). Woodall will wrestle first at weights 150-285 will begin at 2 p.m. (central) with Williams weight class rounding out the evening with 106-144 beginning at 5:30 p.m. (central).

A single win gets them back to the quarter-finals on Saturday. Stay tuned to JR_Sports on Twitter for live pictures, videos and results from the state finals.