After coming close
in 2019, this was all Chesterton junior Evan Bates could think about.
“It’s been on my
mind the entire year,” he said. “It’s what I’ve been training for: this day.
It’s finally real.”
Bates become a
state champion on Saturday night, defeating Harrison’s William Crider 9-0 in
the final round at 220 during the IHSAA State Finals on Saturday night from
Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
It was Bates’
second meeting with Crider in as many weeks, having also beaten Crider at
last Saturday’s East Chicago Central Semistate. Both Bates and coach Chris
Joll attributed that fact to Bates' steady, solid win, capping a 41-1
match was a much different story, though.
Montgomery’s Drew Webster, ranked No. 2 in the state at 220 by IndianaMat,
the top-ranked Bates was put on his back by Webster, who nearly pinned Bates
but scored near fall points to take a 5-4 lead late in the third period.
Joll said that
Bates had been prepared for such occasions by assistant coach Keith Davison.
“He has to thank
Davison because he always puts (Bates) on his back in the room and makes him
fight out of it,” Joll said. “It’s hard to get off your back and then go
score points with only 15 seconds left to do it.”
But that’s exactly
what Bates did, rallying for a 6-5 win.
“I didn’t take the
best of shots and he capitalized and put me on my back,” Bates said. “But I
knew that, if I got off my back, I had better conditioning and I’d be able
to come back.”
Joll said that
sequence in the semifinal match was a perfect encapsulation of Bates’
“That’s who he is
as a competitor,” Joll said of Bates. “Whether he’s wrestling live or
drilling or running 400s and 800s, he goes hard all the time.”
Bates was one of
three Trojans who advanced beyond Friday’s opening round and into Saturday’s
placement rounds. At 145, junior Brock Ellis lost his quarterfinal match Ñ
his first defeat of the season Ñ but won the next two for a fifth-place
finish at the end of a 49-1 season.
“It’s not as high
up as I wanted to be, but you still have to finish the day off,” Ellis said.
“I’ll be mad about it until next year and even after that. I’m coming for
that top spot next year.”
Joll was also
impressed by the way that Ellis responded to his loss.
“I couldn’t be
prouder of him,” Joll said. “He hasn’t been 100 percent this week and hasn’t
for a while. But he puts a lot of pressure on himself to succeed. I think he
wrestled better in those last two matches than he had all year. Hopefully,
he’ll take that into next season.”
Torres placed sixth at 126 at the end of his breakout 43-7 rookie season.
Wrestling in the same building that hosts NBA games had Torres starstruck
when he arrived on Friday.
“I was thinking
that there are NBA stars walking down the same hallways as me,” Torres said.
“That makes me feel pretty cool. It’s a lot different than watching from the
Torres became the
first Chesterton freshman to place at the state finals since Anthony Quiroz
was a runner-up in 2009.
“I’m pretty content
but I definitely want to get back in the room,” Torres said. “The coaches
already have stuff they want me to work on.”
Although this was
Torres’ first appearance at the state meet as a competitor, Joll said that
his prior experience at other large meets helped Torres thrive.
“He’s wrestled in
meets just as big as this before,” Torres said. “He didn’t react like a
The other five
Trojans who qualified for the state finals had their seasons end during
Friday’s first round.
Senior Doug Waters
ended his career going 38-10 at 113, while classmate Nick Winland ended his
high school career with a 30-9 season. Junior Ethan Kaiser finished 34-6 at
138, junior Gavin Layman finished 37-7 at 170 and sophomore Gage DeMarco
ended with a 38-10 record at 195.