In big matches, the members of the Yorktown wrestling team are taught to fall back on their system. It’s what coach Trent McCormick described as a toolbox of physical skills instilled in his athletes at a young age and honed, sharpened and practiced for years.
And that might grow all the more valuable against unfamiliar and high-level competition, such as the kind the Tigers will see today. They might bring nearly their whole team to the Fort Wayne Semistate and the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, but one central truth remains static on the mat.
“The kids are on their own individually,” McCormick said. “If they take care of business individually, then obviously the team score will take care of itself.”
A total of 37 ECI wrestlers will compete at today’s semistate hosted by Fort Wayne Snider. The event starts at 9 a.m. and takes wrestlers from four regionals, meaning 16 wrestlers per class will compete for four spots at the state tournament.
Yorktown brings the largest local contingent with 12 wrestlers, seven ranked in the top 14 by IndianaMat.com, in the 14 classes. Dalton Baysinger, Eli Walker, Rhett Hiestand, Chandler Carroll and Cael McCormick all won regional championships last week. Carroll at 138 and Walker at 145 are ranked third in the state in their respective classes, and Hiestand is fifth at 160.
Jay County has four competitors, including heavyweight Eric Hemmelgarn and 195-pounder Kyle Garringer, both regional champions and ranked among the top-5 in the state.
Southside has seven wrestlers in the field.
Among the Rebels are 170-pound regional champion Jacob Reed, Jacob Strauch, currently ranked No. 14 at 220, and senior Isaiah Bradley, No. 1-ranked and defending state champion at 152 with a winning streak that goes all the way back to the state tournament his sophomore season.
Not that his success changes the way his teammates see him.
“We treat him no different than the rest, and it’s part of the team,” Southside coach Tony Abbott said.
Southside took seven wrestlers to semistate last year and five returned the season. It makes for a better week of practice with a more lively wrestling room, and the situation is one the Rebels are already comfortable with.
“It’s not a surprise or anything new,” Abbott said, noting seven wrestlers is not an every-year occurrence. “But we’re definitely proud of what we accomplished.”
The goal today: accomplish just a bit more.