Experience, maturity shape Schank’s state runFebruary 16, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
For a student athlete, winning a state championship during their high school career is no small feat. The opportunity to win two in the span of one school year? Now, that’s almost unheard of.
Even though the likelihood of someone winning two state titles in the same school year isn’t very high, Southridge’s Tucker Schank has a chance to accomplish that feat this weekend as he travels to Bankers Life Fieldhouse at the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Wrestling State Finals in Indianapolis.
Schank, who was a member of the Raider football team that defeated Woodlan 15-14 in the IHSAA Class 2A State Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium last fall, says the experience he had in Indianapolis in November will play a major part in Schank’s second trip to Bankers Life.
“It helps your morale and it shows you your true potential as a competitor,” Schank said. “There’s no better way to practice than to be put in those situations and for me, it landed at a perfect time right before wrestling season.”
Schank wasn’t just a member of the Raider football team that won state, he’s the one who was the recipient of the 42-yard touchdown pass from Jayce Harter to pull the Raiders within one with 1:22 remaining in the fourth quarter and then converted on the two-point conversion that will live in Huntingburg lore for eternity and brought Southridge High School its first football state championship trophy.
The route to Schank’s second consecutive wrestling state finals appearance has not been easy. After winning the sectional and regional championships in his 160-pound weight class, Schank ran into some stiff competition at last Saturday’s semistate in Evansville.
He knew he would be headed to state after defeating Hanover Southwestern’s Lane Coles and Avon’s Sam Osho, but Schank wasn’t going to just lay down — he wanted to win a semistate title.
In the third round match, Schank battled with Nick South of Columbus East who had given Schank his only loss during the season.
He kept it close as he jumped out to a 4-1 lead but ended up losing 7-5. However, Schank ended the day with a victory over Bloomington South’s Wade Presson for the third place medal, which gave Schank more confidence heading into Indianapolis.
“After I won the first two, I was elated to head back to Bankers Life, but I knew I had to settle down and get back to business because I wanted to get something besides fourth at semistate to boost my chances of medaling at state,” Schank said. “The draw for the semistate wasn’t the easiest one I could’ve gotten but we fought through it and I’m glad it was that way because it gave me some good challenges.”
Schank qualified for the state finals last year but didn’t place after losing on the first day to Warsaw’s Kyle Hatch, who Southridge wrestling coach and Tucker’s father, Dave Schank, said would’ve been the champ if it wasn’t for Evansville Mater Dei’s Joe Lee.
This time around however, Dave feels that his son is much more confident and knows he has a chance to make it out of the first round on Friday and wrestle in the Saturday matches.
“Last year, Tucker didn’t expect to go to state and he knew he didn’t have much a chance, but this year he knows he can go out there and beat some people,” Dave said. “He has a little more drive and purpose and it’s all just clicking right now. It’s one thing for people to tell you that you can do something, it’s another thing for the kid to believe and I think he now he really does believe it, that’ll change your entire mindset.”
Tucker admits that last year was just a good starting point for him but this time around, he won’t just be happy to be there — he’ll be searching for a medal.
“Last year, I got my feet wet and it was a great experience,” Tucker said. “But now with that experience under my belt and after a football season with a lot of dramatic events, I’m ready to come out (of Bankers Life Fieldhouse) with a win.”
Dave feels that his son is much more mature this time around compared to last season.
In the 152-pound weight class at the state finals last year, Tucker was one of just two underclassmen in the class but now he comes in as a junior knowing much more of what to expect and the challenges that lie ahead of him.
“Me and his mom have seen his maturity grow in all aspects of life,” Dave said. “We’ve seen it in sports, we’ve even seen it in how he attacks his grades with purpose. When you’re a young kid, you’re always kind of a little immature, but now I think he’s starting to get a purpose and maturity.”
Tonight, Tucker will battle senior Chandler Woenker of the Fort Wayne Luers. Woenker has compiled a record of 40-3 as a wrestler compared to Tucker’s 43-2 record this season. If Tucker defeats Woenker tonight, he’ll wrestle on Saturday with a guarantee of a top-eight placing.
Dave feels that his son is a stronger wrestler than Woenker but what it all will come down to is plain and simple — who wants it more?
“You have to keep your emotions in check because you have a job to do. If you get too emotionally spent then you won’t have your legs in the match,” Dave said. “We think (Tucker) is a better wrestler and he’s stronger but we’re going to have to match (Woenker’s) desire. If we can win on our feet, then we’re going to win, but that’s usually how it goes in a big match anyway.”
Judging from the film that Tucker has watched on Woenker, he knows that he’s a leg rider which is a type of wrestler that Tucker has typically not performed well against.
But at the state finals, it’s a completely different animal and Tucker is prepared for anything that gets thrown at him.
“We’re going to prepare for all facets of my game,” Tucker said. “I’ve worked on my style on my feet, so I hopefully won’t have to put myself in that down position. But if I find myself there, I just have to fight out of it. I just have to be focused because I don’t want to leave Bankers Life disappointed like I did last year.”
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