For some it is a return trip, and for others it is their first time — but when the lights turn on Saturday morning at New Castle’s Chrysler Fieldhouse — six Montgomery County wrestlers will begin their quest for a trip to the state finals.
Win your first two and you punch your ticket to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but lose early and it’s a long trip back to Crawfordsville.
North Montgomery’s Drew Webster will look to become the first Charger wrestler to win two semi-state titles, hoping to defend his title from 2019 at 220 pounds.
“Come to practice and go hard,” he said. “Do what I’m suppose to do, and do what I’ve done the last two years. With doing the same thing I get more and more comfortable with where I am at as a wrestler and I can feel more confident in my wrestling and ability to go out on the mat and compete to the best of my ability.”
Webster, who is ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 1 at the semi-state according to Indiana Mat, is a perfect 37-0 on the season and will wrestle Lawrenceburg’s Noah Rowlett (27-9) in the first round. With a first round win, Webster will face the winner of Tyler Goodall (23-12) of Perry Meridian, and No. 12 overall and No. 2 at the semi-state in Indianapolis Cathedral’s David Guhl (30-5).
While some coaches and wrestlers put a lot of time in scouting the opponent, second-year Charger coach Bryce McCoy knows it goes much deeper than film study.
“I’ve done a little research just to see what we are up against, but I think at the end of the day it’s just who wants it more and you’ve got to want it more than the guy standing across from you,” he said.
After winning a regional title at 182 last weekend, Dawson McCloud (34-3) will wrestle Kolton Myers (24-10) of Hamilton Heights. McCloud is ranked No. 18 in the state and No. 6 at the semi-state, and with a win, will wrestle the winner of Nick Lawler (37-5) from Rushville Consolidated and Indianapolis Lutheran’s Hayden Filipovich (30-3), who is ranked No. 12 overall, and No. 3 at the semi-state.
“I think he knew to put himself in the best position to a state run is to win your regional,” McCoy said. “and I think going into the regional matches, he wrestled like he absolutely had to win that tournament to move on.”
The trip to the semi-state is the first for McCloud, after a first-round regional exit as a sophomore, and an injury last season.
“It’s been very cultivating,” he said. “It’s something new for me. It’s been very very humbling and very very nice to get this opportunity and get to see the competition and everyone else there. It’s been a long road to come back and be able to get through the regional and win it.”
For a foursome of Mountie wrestlers, an upset will have to take place for each wrestler to punch their ticket to the state finals, but just like freshman Kion Cornelius proved at the regional last Saturday, wrestling is done on the mat and not on paper.
“It means a lot to me just to be in here working with these guys everyday, and just the coaches putting me in an opportunity to beat these people,” he said. “It means a lot to get this far. All you can do really is wrestle your best and give it all you got, and leave it all on the mat.”
At 106, Cornelius (19-8) will wrestle No. 9 ranked Evan Dickey (31-5) of Indianapolis Cathedral.
“He’s a confident athlete,” Southmont coach Jamie Welliever said. “I think just being over there is an accomplishment in itself. I think he kind of knows that he has nothing to lose.”
Saturday will be the third-straight semi-state trip for junior Dillan Lauy, who is 32-4 on the season, and will wrestle No. 6 ranked David Pierson of Warren Central.
“Last year I was a little frustrated going into it, but now I know more of what it’s going to be like,” Lauy said. “and I’ll be more comfy this year for my first two round battles and hopefully make it to state this year.”
Woodall makes a return trip as a junior, and hopes to be more comfortable than last season.
“Last year was a lot to take in, because it’s obviously a big stage compared to what we are used to seeing around here,” he said. “Knowing what that’s like I think I’ll be more comfortable with that too, and just kind of being more mentally and physically prepared for that first round match.”
Woodall (30-6) was the runner-up at the regional at 182, and will wrestle Collin Gillespie (27-8) of Pendleton Heights in the first round. With a win, he will face the winner of South Dearborn’s Dylan McGill (28-12) and No. 4 ranked wrestler in the state, and No. 1 at the semi-state in Perry Meridian’s Aiden Warren (30-3). Woodall knows the scout on his opponents, but is more focused on himself.
“It’s kind of trying to find a balance, because obviously at this level we are asking other coaches and watching film and scouting guys,” he said. “but at the same time at the end of the day these coaches tell us, ‘you’re not wrestling your opponent, you’re wrestling yourself.’ It’s that battle with yourself, and if you can move past that you can do anything and put all that hard work in.”
Welliever doesn’t look too deep into the scout of other wrestlers as a coach either.
“Honestly I call a couple of coaches and just ask,” he said. “I haven’t watched any video, and I don’t care to watch any video. Because it is all about them, but as coaches if we know some tendencies we do prepare them in practice.”
Ty Welliever will make his first appearance on the mat at the semi-state at 170 pounds, in his final season as a senior. Welliever (24-7) will open the tournament with Perry Meridian’s Jujuan Dale (30-9).
“I think he knows it’s senior year,” coach Welliever said. “He’s being wrestling hard, and he’s a dangerous wrestler. He’s a pinner, so if he can keep going and catch somebody, I think he can pin anyone.”
Wrestling begins Saturday morning at 9 a,m