LINDEN – The middle of the Zionsville wrestling team’s line-up has been the strength of the team all season long.
They showed that again on Saturday in a big way. The Eagles claimed four regional titles in a five weight class stretch, and advanced seven wrestlers to the semi-state at the North Montgomery Regional.
“We have been moving around, drilling with a lot of guys and getting different looks,” junior Logan Wagner said. “We have all been competing really well, and that pushes each and every one of us to work a little harder.”
Junior Shane Bates said the group – Hudson Harreld (132), Wagner (138), Vince McDonald (145), Bates (152), Luke Davis (160) and Chase Poynter (170) – all have goals of making it to Bankers Life and putting their name on the wall in the Zionsville wrestling room that is reserved to state qualifiers.
He said that in tournaments, seeing Harreld and Wagner do well starts getting everybody fired up to go out and do their best.
“They get it started off just right for us,” Bates said. “It gets the gym pumping and the blood starts flowing and you feel good about your match.”
All six wrestlers, along with Cam McDaniel (285), qualified for the semi-state by placing in the top-4 at the regional.
Harreld, Wagner, Bates and Davis all won their weight classes, with McDonald, Poynter and McDaniel falling in close matches in the semifinal, but bouncing back for third.
Harreld got the team going on Saturday with a pin of Westfield’s Milo Merkel in the third period.
Harreld trailed 5-1 early in the third period, but was able to take down Merkel straight to his back and finished off the pin.
“Our coaches always talk about coming back from adversity and tough situations,” Harreld said. “Whenever I’m down like that, it is natural to keep fighting because you never know how things can change in a wrestling match just in a split second.”
Harreld improved to 34-5 on the season.
He said that even when he’s down in a match, he is focused on doing what he can to get back into it.
“There have been several situations this year where I have been down or didn’t get the first take down,” Harreld said. “I just stay calm in my head and think that if I get an escape and then a take down, it will hurt this guy’s mental capacity. There are always chances to come back and big chances to score in a match.”
Wagner made it back-to-back wins for the Eagles with a 13-5 win over Carmel’s Brendan Mattingly in the final.
The two top-10 wrestlers faced each other early in the season, with Mattingly winning 9-6.
Wagner trailed very early in the match, but got a takedown late in the first period to go up 3-2, then had four takedowns in the second period to put the match away.
“At the beginning of the year I was still a little lost and didn’t know what I was here to do,” Wagner said. “The coaches and my teammates have helped me figure out where I’m going to be this year and where my style is at. Being more prepared and mentally ready for the match is what it came down to.”
A 152 pounds, Bates had no problems throughout the day, and topped Westfield’s Alec McLaren 14-4 in the final to win his first regional title.
The two had faced off several times this year, which helped, the Zionsville junior said.
“I have things to work on, but I was pretty happy with how I did,” Bates said. “All the coaches have been pushing me and got me right heading into this tournament. I knew what he was trying to do, and knew all his shots. I watched a lot of film, saw things I could work on to score more points.”
Davis continued his strong second half of the season with a 6-3 win over Carmel’s Jackson Mitchell in the final.
Davis nearly finished the match off with a pin in the first period, but couldn’t finish it off, and led 5-0.
Mitchell got a takedown in the second period to make it 5-2, but couldn’t get any closer.
“I have just been focused on going out there and doing my best and not making any stupid mistakes,” Davis said. “After that first period, I just wanted to make sure I was going to keep on doing my best and not give up any more points.”
The seven advancing Eagles will head down to the semi-state on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.
Wrestlers have to win their first two matches to make it to state.
Wagner said that he and the rest of his teammates have know that they will be well prepared for everything they see.
“I believe in our training ritual,” Wagner said. “We have some of the best coaches in the state of Indiana in my opinion. They have a lot of knowledge and experience. My drill partners push me everyday to the point where I’m about to break and I think that makes me better as a human being and makes me tougher.”