Pats’ sure-handed newcomers come up to speed

 

Dave Weathewax/The Herald
Heritage Hills senior Tyler Rickenbaugh, top, drilled with with his teammate and brother, freshman Jake Rickenbaugh, during Wednesday’s practice in Lincoln City. Tyler Rickenbaugh has accentuated his skill set in two years in the Patriot program after moving from Greencastle, and he and teammate Jared Boehm will join 14 other local wrestlers competing in Saturday’s individual semistate at Roberts Stadium in Evansville. Eight Jasper wrestlers and six from Southridge will also be chasing top-four finishes to secure a spot in the state finals.

 

By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer
 
The reason for the smile on Matt Thompson’s face isn’t just because he’s confident in a Heritage Hills duo that’ll vie for a trip to the state wrestling finals Saturday, but also because the Patriot wrestling coach knows something about the capabilities of Tyler Rickenbaugh and Jared Boehm that others don’t.

It’s not that Rickenbaugh and Boehm simply win. It’s how they win with a refined style.

Rickenbaugh said earlier in the season he got lucky a few times, and Boehm was simply trying to learn the basics. Now, both are showing an advanced sense of confidence and maturity.

Take Boehm’s victory in Saturday’s regional championship, a 6-3 decision over Evansville Mater Dei’s Nathan Wright. Thompson said despite the narrow margin, he never doubted the final verdict. Body language and wrestling style stood out to Thompson, who said Boehm was “totally dominant” in his title-clinching bout. Thompson had similar praise for Rickenbaugh, who now controls the action after saying he was previously more reactive. Now, Thompson said, there’s little doubt who’s in control when Rickenbaugh and Boehm compete.

“It’s been a blast,” Thompson said of coaching the pair. “It’s kind of like bringing a gun to a knife fight. It’s a good feeling. They’re two tough kids, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Eight wrestlers from Jasper and another six from Southridge will accompany Rickenbaugh (44-3) and Boehm (43-5) into Saturday’s individual semistate at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, which is the next step for two party crashers to the Patriot wrestling scene.

Unlike Boehm, Rickenbaugh possesses a wealth of wrestling experience, and the senior took to the sport immediately. And grappling for Heritage Hills was a given after he moved to Spencer County from Greencastle after his sophomore year.

There, Rickenbaugh said wrestling “was just something for people to do,” but he’s expanded his aresenal at Heritage Hills, where Rickenbaugh said everything is much more intense. He added Thompson and the rest of the coaches have helped him develop moves specific to his skill set, and his only three losses on the year have all come to top-ranked Castle senior Chad Welch.

“I’d let the other guy do whatever he wanted and I’d try to wrestle off of what he was doing,” Rickenbaugh said of his old style. “Then I came here and improved my stance and worked on actually having an offense. Now, I pretty much control what I do and what the other guy does in the match.”

Next up for Rickenbaugh is Matt Hall of Cloverdale, who Rickenbaugh has never faced on the mat, though the two are still familiar with one another from Rickenbaugh’s days at nearby Greencastle. There, Rickenbaugh and Hall (28-5) played baseball together in the offseason.

Boehm, on the other hand, thought he had already decided wrestling wasn’t for him. He gave it a try once when he said he was real little, but added he didn’t like it at all. Then in eighth grade, a group of his buddies talked him into another foray.

“I definitely didn’t want to get back in,” Boehm said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know guys, I don’t think I want to do that,’ because I had never liked wrestling. I always looked at it as a weird sport.”

His friends got Boehm back into wrestling, but the competitive nature of being on the mat kept him coming back. Boehm said he usually takes to team sports, though he likes the singular focus wrestling demands.

“Before the year I was still kind of working on my balance and getting into certain moves and working on my speed,” Boehm said. “I’m a lot better now than what I was at the beginning of the season.”

Earlier in the year, Boehm said he struggled, constantly getting thrown off his opponents. Now, his comfort level has spiked.

“Fundamentally speaking, he just keeps bettering better and better every week and I’d even say by the match,” Thompson said. “He’s just gotten much more solid. Some of the losses he had early in the year, at this point in the year, there’s no way he’d lose to those same kids.”

That group includes Boehm’s first-round opponent Saturday, Heath Hedrick of Washington.

Hedrick (32-14) overpowered Boehm and secured a pin when the two clashed during the Jasper quad dual on Jan. 15. Hedrick caught Boehm out of position, something that Thompson said has happened only twice all year, resulting in Boehm’s only two defeats by pin this season.

Boehm’s also been able to expand his offense throughout the season, thanks in part to some advice from Rickenbaugh.

“He’s taught me some new takedowns that I’ve learned that have really helped me get points,” Boehm said. “He’s taught me how to get out of things.”

Boehm said it helps having a teammate advance this far for a little added support, and both he and Rickenbaugh haven’t been using the week to rest up. Instead, Thompson said they’ve been going at it with as much vigor as they’ve displayed all season.

“Their practice habits are excellent, they really push the tempo,” Thompson said. “There’s no taking a round off if you’re wrestling one of those guys. You better come prepared, because if not, they’re going to hurt you.”
 
Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com.




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