CENTERVILLE, Ind. – Isaiah Michaels’ ticket-round match happened so fast, Centerville wrestling coach Mike Day and his staff had a hard time keeping stats.
A 44-second pin over state-ranked Brett Johnson of Perry Meridian during last Saturday’s New Castle Semistate punched the junior’s ticket to state, making Michaels the first Bulldog to qualify for the state finals since Joey Brown did so in 2007.
The 152-pound junior will wrestle Drue Berkebile of Yorktown during Friday’s opening round at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nate Trawick of Richmond will face Brendan Sutton of Jennings County in the 285-pound weight class, while teammate Alston Bane meets Cael McCormick of Yorktown at 145 and Winchester’s Dustyn Hangen meets Penn’s Kobe Woods at 220.
“It was one of my longtime goals when I got into high school,” Michaels said of advancing to the state finals.
“… I expect it to be hard, but I’m just going to go there, try my hardest and see what happens.”
What’s happened so far in Michaels’ career has been mainly positive.
Michaels has 140 takedowns this season, surpassing the previous single-season mark of 116, and as a junior has already set the career record with 262. The previous mark was 239.
“He’s a takedown machine,” said Centerville coach Mike Day, who has more than 300 career victories. “He works hard at it. I’m constantly on him about wrestling his pace and staying after it, because when he stays after it and makes kids wrestle his pace, it’s hard to stay after him. That’s one thing we’ll be working on at practice this week.”
Michaels played football and ran the 1,600 and the 800 in track and field, but has focused on wrestling.
It’s paid off, as he owns a 40-4 season record this season to go along with individual Wayne County, Tri-Eastern Conference and sectional championships.
Michaels finished second at the Richmond Regional and was fourth last Saturday, but not before the tough 44-second battle over Johnson.
“Isaiah came out, he was down 6-4, so the kid took him down, put him right on his back. Isaiah reversed it, put him on his back. The kid reversed him, put him on his back, and Isaiah kind of sat up with him and reversed him,” Day recalled. “At this point, the crowd’s going nuts, because it happened so fast, matter of fact, I didn’t know how fast it happened. It was in 44 seconds, but there were, like 16 points were scored in 44 seconds, which is — really, at that level — unheard of.”
Michaels added: “He was a tough guy. He came out aggressive and I kind of just used his momentum against him and it was just a scramble and I ended up on top and I just pinned him and I was ecstatic to just go to state and I was happy that I beat him.”
A victory Friday night advances Michaels to Saturday morning’s 9:30 quarterfinals, with consolations scheduled for 5 p.m. and championships for 7:30.
“My goal is just to place, to get on the podium,” Michaels said.
AT A GLANCE
• What: IHSAA State wrestling finals
• When/where: 1st round 6 p.m. Friday; quarterfinals 9:30 a.m., consolations 5 p.m., finals 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
• Cost: $8 per session or $20 for both days
• Area qualifiers: Centerville’s Isaiah Michaels, Richmond’s Alston Bane and Nate Trawick, Winchester’s Dustyn Hangen