State finals up next for forceful duoFebruary 16, 2012
By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer
Swade Oser hasn’t been out to hurt anyone this year. No, seriously.
Perhaps it’s possible for any reasonable person to take a look at the burly 160-pound senior wrestler for Heritage Hills — and surmise the Patriot is capable of carrying a handful of mini-fridges. And yes, his teammates have certainly noticed a new demeanor out of him this season.
But Oser has simply subscribed to his own style, even if it appears menacing.
“The best word to describe him is ‘animal,’” Patriot junior Jared Boehm said. “What he does is crazy. Compared to what other people do, it’s different.”
Others have taken notice, though Oser (54-1) didn’t show up this year and magically collect a state finals berth. Both he and Boehm (53-3 at 220 pounds) will compete in the showdown of the state’s best starting Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Oser finished 36-5 a year ago. This season, it’s not so much he’s winning, but deciding how he wants to thump his opponent. Heritage Hills coach Matt Thompson noted Oser’s good enough on his feet to allow an opponent up, but also strong enough on the mat to ride out the entire period without any worry.
And, to opponents at least, Oser comes with a warning label.
“All season long, I had coaches come up to me and say, ‘Hey, at 160 I have a kid that’s a first-year wrestler, can you take it easy on him?’” Thompson said. “I had to reassure the coach Swade’s not going to hurt the kid, just go out there and take him down and pin him. That happened all season, almost every tournament we went to.”
As for the perception of Oser, Thompson said there’s a bit of a chasm.
“Even though there’s times during the course of a match where he’s very violent in his motion, it’s not with ill intent,” Thompson said. “It’s just the way it is, that’s just the way he wrestles. He’s not mad. It’s just the way the actions go and he realizes sometimes you have to be more forceful than others, and he’ll get the job done one way or the other.”
Thompson knows better than most. He’s been working with Oser on his takedowns for six years. They critique moves and add new ones. They study video. That’s transferred to the mat, where Oser no longer takes his cue from anybody.
“He’s always been good, and he’s always had the tools, this year I think he’s just going out and wrestling and having a good time, not overthinking it,” Thompson said. “Whereas in the past I think he would concern himself with what the other guy was going to do, now he’s just doing what he does. It’s made a big difference.”
In describing how he approaches matches, Oser said “they” think he’s good on his feet, meaning the coaches. As for what he thinks, the Patriot steamroller shrugs and half-smiles.
“I don’t know, I don’t like to brag about myself,” he said. “I know having a good record and making it high (in the tournament), a lot of people get big heads and stuff and I try not to be like that. I try not talk about myself a whole lot.”
Oser appears bashful at first glance. His friends try to take him on occasionally, figuring they can earn bragging rights by mowing down a state finalist.
“A lot of my friends, they like to mess with me,” he said. “It’s kind of like a little competition between us, because you never know when a little match is going to break out.”
With a smile, Oser said he usually wins, and along with Boehm, he’s been receiving the expected lion’s share of support from the school and community. Boehm is making his second deep run in the postseason, having plowed his way to semistate last year.
Boehm looks just as stocky as Oser, and said his own fundamentals are much improved from last season. He said Oser’s made the same progress. Thompson said Boehm has never lacked for confidence, a contrast to Oser’s introverted style.
Last season, Boehm still traveled to Indianapolis to watch teammate Tyler Rickenbaugh and can remember the immensity of the arena. Beyond that, he figures on doing what he does best.
“It just feels like another tournament,” Boehm said of the state finals. “Inside your head you know it’s more to it than just that, but once you actually get there, it just kind of seems like another tournament.”
But he and Oser’s double-dip into the state finals is anything but routine. It’s the first time in Thompson’s six seasons he’s had two wrestlers advance to the state finals, and the first time for the school since Zach Goldsberry and Tom Aigner competed in 2002. Previously under Thompson, there have been Rickenbaugh and Jeff Weiss, who qualified two years ago.
Oser said tangling with both of them over the years “is pretty much the reason why I’m as good as I am.”
Uncharacteristic of Oser? Perhaps. But well-deserved.
“As a coach you can’t ask for anything more, very proud actually,” Thompson said. “We’ve taught these guys how to wrestle over the last few years and they’ve listened and paid attention and done all the things we asked them to do, put the extra effort in, put the extra time in, logged the miles and it’s paying off. It’s great.”
Contact John Patishnock at email@example.com.
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