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Banker's Life or bust

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Cambridge City Lincoln’s Hunter Brown tries to escape from Lawrenceburg’s Corbin Walston at the IHSAA regional wrestling tournament lastSaturdayin Richmond. Brown won the regional championship at 132 pounds, and will carry a No. 1 seed into the semistate at New Castle. In his first round on Saturday, Brown will face Max Naselroad from Alexandria Monroe.
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Franklin County’s Evan Seal takes control of a match at the South Dearborn sectional on Saturday, Jan. 26. Wrestling at 113 pounds, Seal finished third at the sectional meet, and then followed that with a third-place effort at the Richmond regional last weekend. The FC sophomore will begin semistate action, Saturday at New Castle, against Lawrence Central’s Antonio Jefferson.
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Connersville will send four wrestlers to Saturday’s IHSAA semistate meet at New Castle. From left, Blake Bushey (160 pounds), Colton Massey (170), Evan Shafer (195) and Zack McQueen (285) will battle for a chance to attend the state finals. Wrestlers must win their first two matches at the semistate to advance.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

NEW CASTLE — For those attending the Indiana High School Athletic Association semistate wrestling meet inside the Chrysler Fieldhouse in New Castle this weekend, wrestling’s biggest high school stage is just two wins away.

That’s the bar that each grappler will face, as he or she laces up their shoes and squeeze into their singlets.

At the regional tournament one week ago, the first match for each wrestler was the “ticket” round, as one win was all that was needed to advance in the postseason tournament.

But this Saturday, it will take two victories to advance.

Awaiting those who are able to earn them is a trip to the IHSAA State Championships, to be held at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Feb. 15-16.

It’s an accomplishment every grappler holds onto throughout the season, but only few achieve.

Connersville will have four wrestlers making a bid for the finals, as Blake Bushey, Colton Massey, Evan Shafer and Zack McQueen earned semistate berths last week at the Richmond regional.

The Franklin County Wildcats will also have four wrestlers at the New Castle meet, as Evan Seal, Garrett Condo, Adam Crouch and Grant Suding will be fighting to take the next step.

Both Cambridge City Lincoln and Union County will suit up a total of five of wrestlers, as the former school will put Hunter Brown, Josh Miles and Ben Ahrens to the test, while the latter will have Alex Fuller and Tucker Coffman on the mats.

The weight classes those 13 grapplers will wrestle in are as follows:

• 113 — Seal (30-14) will open his state tournament bid with a bout against Lawrence Central’s Antonio Jefferson (19-6). Seal was a third-place finisher at the Richmond regional one week ago. A win by the FC sophomore in his opener would move him into a ticket match against either David Pierson (28-2) from Warren Central or Josue Bautista (26-8) from Frankfort.

• 120 — Condo (31-8) drew Mt. Vernon (Fortville) wrestler Carson Johnson (30-11) in the first round. Condo is one of four No. 2 seeds in the bracket, after finishing second at Richmond. With a win, Condo’s second opponent would be Roncalli’s Brayden Lowery (35-0) or Fishers’ Dylan Parodi (19-15).

• 126 — Fuller (22-18) is a No. 4 seed in the bracket, and as a result, will open against one of four top seeds, this one being Roncalli’s Sam Slivka, who comes in at 30-4. In the second round, Fuller would face either Gaige Lloyd (16-16) from Hamilton Southeastern or Jared Brown (34-7) from Pendleton Heights.

• 132 — Brown (26-3) was the regional champion in this class at Richmond, giving him a No. 1 seed this weekend. His semistate will kick off with a bout against Alexandria Monroe’s Max Naselroad (30-8). With a win, Brown will go into the ticket round against either Thomas Defreese (30-7) from Indianapolis Scecina or Milo Merkel (27-9) from Westfield.

• 138 — Crouch (32-9) opens against Carmel’s Kyle Holman (23-9) on Saturday. The FC sophomore was a fourth-place finisher at the regional. a win over Holman will pit him against either Deacon Pettiford (25-11) from Lawrence North or Gabe Smith (30-9) from Perry Meridian.

• 145 — Miles (17-9), a fourth-place finisher at Richmond last week, will open against one of the top seeds in the bracket this week, Antwaun Graves (30-4) from Warren Central. The winner of that match will face either Jeff Dunasky (33-3) from Guerin Catholic or Tyler Lindamood (16-16) from Fishers.

• 152 — Suding (33-10) will put his No. 3 seed against the No. 2 seed of Brice Coleman (36-2) from Warren Central. If Suding gets past Coleman, he will face the winner of the Elliott Rodgers (34-3)/Jackson Williams (28-16) match. Rodgers is from Indianapolis Cathedral and Williams is from Hamilton Southeastern.

• 160 — Bushey (32-10) finished fourth at Richmond, and will face North Montgomery’s Jake Lowe (34-2) in his semistate opener. To be successful, CHS coach Mac Taylor says he will need to make an adjustment on the mat.

“Blake is an outstanding technician on the mat,” Taylor said. “But he’s going to have to be much faster than he is right now.” 

A win by Bushey would put him in the ticket round against either Jake Rebein (33-3) from Indianapolis Scecina or Bradley Harrington (36-7) from North Central.

• 170 — Massey (31-6) was the third-place finisher at the regional, which places him against Perry Meridian’s Cody Klettheimer (34-0) in the first round of semistate.

“Cody has been a wrestler since he was a young kid,” Taylor said. “Massey left some things on the table at the regional, and that put him in this situation. I know that he has the ability to come out of this semistate. Now, he just needs to find it in himself and go out and do it.”

In the second round, Massey would face either Noah Baker (27-13) from Perry Meridian or Logan Hart (25-11) from Carmel.

Coffman (34-2) is the person who defeated Massey at the regional, and the UC senior went on to win the weight class. As a No. 1 seed, he will face Indianapolis Arsenal’s Joe Rice (28-11).

If he wins his opener, Coffman will face either Josh Lowe (35-1) from Montgomery or Jaeden Battista (27-11) from Southport.

• 195 — Shafer (22-10) will open his first trip to semistate against Tipton’s K.J. Roudebush (24-2). The CHS sophomore finished third at the Richmond regional, defeating East Central’s Kyle Krummen for that spot.

“If Evan wrestles the way he did in that match (against Krummen), there isn’t going to be anybody in the weight class that can stay with him,” Taylor said.

A win by Shafer would move him into a match against either Carmel’s Jack Heldt (34-3) or Indianapolis Lutheran’s Logan Beard (19-5).

• 285 — McQueen (34-3) finished third at the regional, and will open semistate action against Indianapolis Chatard wrestler Zach Evans (20-4).

“Zach has been going up against ranked wrestlers most of the season, so he should be ready for this,” Taylor said of his heavyweight.

In the second round, the CHS senior would face either John Harris (32-2) from Roncalli or Cameron McDaniel (28-12) from Zionsville.

Ahrens (30-4) was the champion at the Richmond regional, and the Lincoln senior will put his No. 1 seed on the line against No. 4 Justin Stephens (21-15) from Pendleton Heights. A victory over Stephens would put Ahrens in the quarterfinals against either Crae Kunkleman (33-7) from Hamilton Southeastern or Antone Alexander (29-9) from Franklin Central.