Riley Woodall cemented his place in Southmont Wrestling history on Saturday evening at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The senior defeated Lake Central’s Jake Sues 3-1 to place seventh in the state at 182 at the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals. Woodall joins an accomplished list of Mountie wrestlers to place at the finals, joining Boone Welliever (2017) and Zach Worm (2016) as the two most recent state-placers.
“It’s a dream come true. Really it’s an honor to be talked about and grouped in with that caliber of guys that have come from such a small school that we are and to be able to make it and place in the state tournament,” he said. “and I’m just very thankful and appreciative of everyone that’s helped me to this point. All my coaches, my family, my friends and everyone that’s believed in me. It’s something I’m going to take with me for the rest of my life and I’m never going to forget.”
Woodall lost to Warsaw’s Brandon Estepp 7-5 in Saturday’s quarterfinal match, before losing to Chesterton’s Gavin Layman 3-0 in the consolations. He then responded by winning the final match of his high school career.
“Those first two matches didn’t necessarily go the way I wanted them to go, but that’s just how it is at this level, and there’s not much you can do about it,” he said. “Sometimes things are just out of your control, but you keep your head in it and keep wrestling and keep battling and keep taking it to the guys and eventually you get here.”
Woodall fell behind 1-0 in the second period of the seventh-place match, but responded with a takedown in the second and an escape in the third to secure the 3-1 victory.
“I’ve started getting pretty good at getting in and getting a takedown and I know that’s been the difference in many matches,” he said. “and I think the finality hit me just before I was going out there that this was going to be the last high school wrestling match that I was going to wrestle, and I was planning on come out with a win and finishing strong and really putting a positive note on the day.”
Woodall’s state-placing performance concludes his wrestling career at Southmont. The senior was a semi-state qualifier as a sophomore and junior at 182, before breaking-through to the state finals as a senior.
“Every year you start the year wanting to end up on the last day, and when you get to do it at a school our size, it’s pretty special,” Southmont coach Jamie Welliever said. “He just kept getting better. More and more focused on what his style is and what he can do, and he just stuck to that better and better. Even in his two losses today, you’re 2-2 at state with that caliber and you’re in the other two matches, clearly you’re right there. That’s just a testament to him working and how he wrestles best.”
Woodall helped a young Southmont team repeat as Sagamore Conference champions in 2021 and earn a runner-up finish at the sectional. And he’s set a new benchmark of success for the younger wrestlers, which includes his brother, Wyatt, who was a semi-state qualifier as a freshman this season.
“I think it’s going to benefit our whole program,” Welliever said. “Talk about his brother seeing that, and you know he’s going to want to be there and do that, we have a lot of that freshmen crew here today watching, and that’s just a great example for everybody in the program and for everybody coming up.”