With the 2015-16 wrestling season underway, these are five ECI wrestlers to keep an eye on as they make their push to state, in addition to Yorktown’s Cael McCormick.
Exuse Brown, Central
Brown’s first name is pronounced “Zeus”, same as the Greek God, a comparison any wrestler would love to have. A multi-sport athlete who also played football, he fell in his second match in the Fort Wayne Snider Semistate in an 8-6 decision last season, but returns as a senior for one final push to state. Competing in the 138-pound weight class, he says he hopes to face Delta’s Sage Coy in the postseason, saying it’ll be a good, fun matchup against one of the top wrestlers in the area. “Everyone wants to win state and my goal is nothing less than that,” Brown said. “I know I’ll have some good matchups in sectionals and regionals, me and Sage going back at it, I could see that.” He started off the season strong, going 5-0 for the Bearcats at the Taylor Super Eight Invitational last Saturday and was named “Outstanding Wrestler” for the event. Although he’s proud of all parts of his game, he said the quickness of his feet and keeping a high tempo helps keep his opponents off-guard and tries to teach younger wrestlers so they can continue building the program for the future.
Sage Coy, Delta
Coy returns for his senior year after he barely missed bringing back the top prize last season. He took home third place in the 132-weight class at state as a junior, finishing with a 42-2 record, falling to Nick Lee who went on to win state. The other loss he suffered that season came at a weight that was higher than his usual weight class, according to coach Gary Schliessman. “Just when you think you might have him figured out, he is going to hit you with something you never saw coming,” he said. “He should be fun to watch this year.” Along with Folkstyle wrestling, Coy has also trained in Greco and Freestyle wrestling, giving him a well-rounded attack. “One of his greatest strength’s is his unbelievable natural athleticism and unpredictability,” Schliessman said. “We joke about how the kid could have been a great gymnast.” He said Coy is the heartbeat of Delta wrestling and younger wrestlers look up to him for guidence and he’s earned their respect.
Brad Laughlin, Yorktown
Yorktown has a wealth of quality wrestlers this season, and Laughlin is just one of them. “I’ve been doing neutral work, getting to my offense and not the same traditional setups, moving more and being more physical,” Laughlin said about what he’s worked on over the summer. “It’s nice to get to work every day with my team here.” He had a successful junior campaign, he went to state and took home a 5th-place finish at 138, reaching his preseason goal of finishing in the top six. Yorktown coach Trent McCormick called him one of the Tigers’ leaders. While Laughlin has a shot to make it back into the top six again, finishing fifth isn’t what’s on his mind, using that finish as motivation coming into this season. “It showed that I can be one of the top competitors in the state,” he said. “It pushes me to work harder because I know I was just a few spots away from being at the very top of the state, and I want to be there.”
Jacob Gray, Delta
With two years of experience in high school wrestling under his belt, Gray returns as a junior ready to make another run at a state championship. He finished in sixth place at the state finals last season at 160 and even made noise as a freshman, falling in overtime at semistate. He’s wrestled in national tournaments over the summer and Schliessman said one of his best assets is his work ethic. “He’s a meat-and-potatoes-type of wrestler,” he said. “He doesn’t show off a lot of flashy moves when he competes, but wrestles like a relentless machine.” Schliessman said Gray is one of Delta’s hardest workers and it shows in the results he gets during the season. “It’s rare to find wrestlers that will do the extra, but the ones that do only build their confidence knowing they’ve worked harder than most of the opponents they’ll face,” Schliessman said.
Christian Hunt, Yorktown
He may not look like an intimidating force at first glance, but Hunt packs a wallop behind his small frame. He finished sixth at state last season at 106 as a freshman and is back to make a push for a championship. As the youngest area competitor to make it that far last season, the potential for more state-title runs is a strong possibility. He’s gained weight heading into the season and will be competing at 120 pounds. “I’ve been training in Indy and with the team throughout the summer,” Hunt said. “We did a lot of summer wrestling in Bloomington and other places.” Hunt’s proud of what he accomplished as just a freshman, but has high expectations and isn’t satisfied with how the season ended. He expects to be back at Bankers Life Fieldhouse next spring, and with a different result. “It was bittersweet. It was cool that I was able to get to state and place so high, but I wanted to win,” he said. “I want to win it all this season.”
Contact prep sports reporter David Polaski at (765) 213-5848. Follow him on Twitter @DavidPolaskiTSP.