The waiting will be
the hardest part.
sophomores Evan Bates and Brock Ellis secured top-four finishes at the state
finals, both wrestlers talked about the future.
“This feels good,”
Ellis said. “But I’m ready for next year.”
Ellis placed fourth
at 152 pounds while Bates took third at 182, as each sophomore proved they
belong among the state’s elite.
Bates, ranked fifth
in the state by IndianaMat, made his state meet debut one week after
knocking off the second and fourth-ranked wrestlers on his way to a
semistate title. And that success had Bates believing he could enjoy similar
success at the state finals.
“When I beat those
guys, I showed -- myself, mostly -- that I could wrestle with anybody in the
state,” Bates said. “I just needed to wrestle like I did last weekend and,
hopefully, I’d get on the podium.”
Bates won his first
match by fall and then scored a 9-3 decision over Oak Hill’s Bradley Rossman
in the quarterfinal round. In the semifinal round, though, Bates ran into
top-ranked and undefeated Carson Brewer from Avon, who stifled every
offensive attempt from Bates in a 9-0 victory. Brewer went on to win the
state title at 182, while Bates pinned Edgewood’s Levon Bellemy in the
second period of their match to secure a third-place finish at state.
Bates said he
wasn’t surprised by the result because of how hard the Trojans have been
working at practice.
“I feel pretty
good,” he said. “I was a little disappointed with how I lost. But I learned
about never giving up and how to bounce back from a loss. I just have to
keep working. There’s still a lot of time to get better.”
fourth at 152 pounds, a significantly better result than his freshman
season, when Ellis was eliminated in the first round at the state finals.
“This is a lot
better than being out on Friday night like last year,” he said. “It’s kind
of bittersweet, though. It’s awesome to place fourth, but I set my goals
higher. I lost to some good wrestlers. There’s no shame in losing to them,
but it still sucks.”
Ellis hung on for a
6-5 decision against Huntington North junior Cody McCune on Friday night,
then advanced to the semifinal round with a 6-4 overtime victory over
Columbus East’s Jake Schoenegge.
Like Bates, though,
Ellis ran into an eventual state champion in the semifinal round, losing 7-0
to Cathedral’s Elliott Rodgers. And Ellis’ draw in the third-place match was
no easier, as he faced top-ranked Eli Dickens from powerhouse program
Evansville Mater Dei. Dickens won that match 5-2, sending Ellis to a
“I just didn’t
shoot as much as I needed to or wanted to,” Ellis said. “That’s something I
need to focus on for next year: just shoot more.”
But Ellis said he’s
always learned more from defeats.
“It’s hard to tell
someone to do something if they’re winning all the time,” Ellis said. “Why
would they change?”
One thing that
neither Ellis nor Bates needs to change is the way they’ve carried
themselves on and off the mats, according to coach Chris Joll.
“They don’t work
like sophomores, they don’t act like sophomores and they don’t wrestle like
sophomores,” Joll said. “They’re just wrestlers. They’re role models for the
younger kids. They’re good representatives of the school. They wrestle the
way they practice, and they practice that way because they have a work ethic
that comes from their families.”
“When you combine
that with athletic ability,” Joll said, “it’s hard for a kid like that to