Wrestlers head to next level at semistate

Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Southridge's Tanner Kane will be one of seven wrestlers representing the Raiders at this Saturday's IHSAA semistate meet at the Ford Center in Evansville.

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

It’s onward and upward for the masters in the grappling arts, as wrestling teams across Dubois and Spencer counties get set for Saturday’s semistate meet at the Ford Center in Evansville.

Every wrestler who straps up for the tournament will have to at least make the semifinal round in their respective divisions if they want to move on to state. But the guys who have made it this far have withstood every obstacle laid before them during the season, and so they press forward once again to clear the next hurdle.

Jasper is sending five wrestlers to Evansville: Jainier Milanes (106), Ian Giesler (132), Zach Flynn (182), Ashton Schuetter (195) and Will Collon (220). Wildcats coach Jace Brescher said the guys who made it had some of their best matches at last week’s regional round, and he wants them to trust in the skills and styles that got them to this point. The guys are going to take it match by match in terms of whether they apply more offensive or defensive-minded strategies to move forward.

“One opponent may require a more aggressive approach, and it may be another that might require a less aggressive approach,” Brescher said. “We’re trying to study a little bit, but really focus on the things we’re successful at and how can we make those things just a little bit better.”

Brescher also wants his guys to respect the fact that everyone who has made it to this point is dangerous and capable, so they’ll need to keep their minds clear if they’re going to be successful in their task. He believes 90 percent of the battle is won or lost inside a wrestler’s head, so if he’s programmed right ahead of time, the body will follow in doing what needs to be done.

“We focus on keeping them mentally tough so they have the right mindset going into their matches,” Brescher said. “Whether they’re wrestling against a regional champion or a fourth-place guy, at this level, everybody has the ability to win. They have to have the right mindset and confidence in themselves and continue working on the things that got them there throughout the season.”

Southridge is on a similar wave length when it comes to preparing its wrestlers for semistate — trust the dance moves that got you to the ball. The Raiders are sending Tanner Kane (120), Patrick Sander (132), Brad Springer (152), Tucker Schank (160), Sam Schroeder (170), Chase Taylor (220) and Wyatt Kramer (285). Each guy has their own approach when it comes to doing what they do best on the mats, so their coach, Dave Schank, doesn’t want them hung up on what their opponent may or may not do.

“At this point and time, the kids know how to wrestle, Their styles are set,” Schank said. “(It’s about) believing in yourself and what you can do. Don’t get overhyped about somebody if they’re higher ranked. Just focus on that next match, and don’t worry about anything else. We are who we are. We’re not going to change our style of wrestling.”

Jasper also has an abundance of wrestlers at this weekend's meet as Zach Flynn is one of five members competing for the Cats. Forest Park and Heritage Hills will also both be represented in Evansville.

One of the keys Schank has been trying to drill into the kids is the importance of going out and getting that first takedown to cement a firm, early grasp on the match. Any chance to score bonus points are also a plus when looking at a competitive atmosphere where one point could separate a win from a loss. It’s all about staying in the match and earning that slight margin wherever you can.

“If you can turn a kid and get some extra points, that’s huge,” he said. “These matches end up being 3-2, 5-4, even 2-1. If you can go out and get the first takedown, get bonus points, and stay off your back, you know you’re going to be in the match.”

For Forest Park’s Isaac Brosmer (106), the key to success is very simple: aggression, aggression, aggression. Rangers coach Craig Recker believes Brosmer is at his best when he can get out and push the pace early against his opponent rather than sitting back and reacting to what is thrown his way. He wants Brosmer to be attacking from the starting whistle, staying active all throughout the match without letting the other guy set up any of his moves.

“Our main focus is to keep the aggression up and keep moving,” Recker said. “If he can get the first takedown, then we’ll go from their. You want to take that kid out of it. When you take their A-move away and you get to do your A-move, the odds for being successful are much greater.”

For Recker, 10 seconds will be too long of a wait for Brosmer to start into his offense. He wants Brosmer to be shooting and moving from start to finish, and believes he should have the physical edge that comes with being one of the older and more seasoned wrestlers in his weight class.

“I think overall at the weight class he is at, he should have strength on his side,” Recker said. “Before, he was always the smallest, and younger most of the time. With him being a junior, he has age and strength on his side, two things he never had before.”

Heritage Hills will also be sending its own platoon to semistate in the form of Sam Scott (120), Phoenix Rodgers (182) and Aidian Rea (285). Patriots coach Adam Zollman loves the variety of tools his guys bring to the table, such as Scott’s agility (what he calls “mosquito style” wrestling), Rodgers’ strength and Rea’s above-average athleticism. Zollman has been loving their preparation heading into Saturday, and thinks his boys are looking their best at the right time in the season.

“Monday and Tuesday practices have been the best that we’ve had all season,” he said. “We train to peak here at the end of the year during tournament time. I’m excited for those three guys. I’m hoping we’ve done everything we needed to do, and I feel confident that we have.”

Zollman falls in with the rest of the area teams when it comes to coaching his kids on what they do best, instead of looking to try and throw in different wrinkles at this late stage in the game. However, when it comes to mentally preparing for semistate, he challenges his guys to go over the wrestling match as many times as they can in their heads, down to the minor details like strapping on their braces or shaking the ref’s hand. He wants them to go over every kind of scenario in the hopes that once they hit the mats, nothing will be a surprise to them.

“Hopefully you’ve wrestled that match in your mind hundreds of times, so when it actually happens, we’re ready to go,” he said. “It’s something that’s second nature. Everybody is going to be nervous, get those butterflies going in one direction. You’re doing exactly what you should be doing, and you stay that way the whole time — calm, cool, explosive. You’re going to go with it and do your thing.”

Though the stakes may be raised, everyone is treating semistate like it’s just another day in the office. The boys can only go out and do their best to make it to the next step, just as they have done all season long. They go to Evansville knowing they have the confidence of their schools and communities at their back, and they’re prepared to lay it all on the mat for their shot at the biggest prize: state.

 




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