One individual could reach a level only two other Indiana high school wrestlers have ever reached during this weekend’s state wrestling finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
One program could achieve a first in its history, while another program has a chance to end a drought dating back 3½ decades.
New Palestine’s Chad Red takes a 179-0 record into Friday in the first step toward his attempt at winning a fourth state title. Two other area wrestlers will try to make it back-to-back state championships while extending impressive win streaks.
On the team side, top-ranked Brownsburg and No. 2 Warren Central are among a group expected to challenge for the team championship. Brownsburg has never won an Indiana High School Athletic Association wrestling title, while the Warriors are looking for their first since 1980.
Here are five things to watch this weekend at Bankers Life.
• Brownsburg looking for first state title. The Bulldogs won the team state duals title in January and, with seven wrestlers in the field, are looking to add an IHSAA title to that. But winning the team crown isn’t the focus for Brownsburg coach Darrick Snyder.
“Our goal was to win the dual state title, and we showed we were the best team in the state,” he said. “After that, our focus is on making our individual kids as good as they can be. We’ve got seven guys chasing state titles, and that’s where our focus is. If those seven go out and wrestle well and that’s enough for us to win (the team title), that’s awesome.”
• Warren Central also in the mix. The Warriors qualified a meet-high eight wrestlers, including four as semistate champs. That the IHSAA is now scoring the first round of the state meet likely will benefit Warren Central.
“I think at this point, everyone you wrestle is good,” said Warren Central coach Jim Tonte. “But we feel (the draw) is about as good as we could have hoped for. I think our kids feel confident, and they look pretty relaxed.”
Several tough quarterfinal matches loom for the Warriors, but that’s expected.
“We’ve got kids who want to win state titles, and you’ve got to go out and beat the best to win a state title,” Tonte said.
• Looking to repeat. Danville’s 126-pound Brock Hudkins takes a 76-match winning streak into Friday night. Ranked No. 1 in the state, Hudkins is 43-0 and won a 120-pound title in 2015. And Cathedral’s Blake Rypel (41-0) won the 195-pound crown in 2015 and has an 88-match win streak as he attempts to bring home the 182-pound championship.
• The Samuels Brothers. Lawrence North senior Ricky Samuels (170 pounds) and younger brother Robert, a junior wrestling at 285 pounds, both are coming off semistate titles. Robert made it to state a year ago, falling in overtime in the first round.
“I feel better now that (Ricky) is going to state with me,” said Robert, who is 41-6 and ranked sixth in the state. “I’m really proud of him.”
For Ricky, getting to go with his younger brother makes this trip special.
“It’s a lot better having a sibling with you,” said Ricky (40-6 and ranked sixth). “You want to experience something great like this with him.”
• Notable first-round matchups. Friday’s opening round is typically only surpassed, in terms of anticipation and excitement, by the championship round and the semistate ticket round. This year’s will be no exception. There are several high-profile opening-round matches involving area wrestlers, including: 113 pounds, New Palestine’s Alec White (ranked No. 2) vs. Indian Creek’s Alex Mosconi (No. 10); 132, Danville’s Elliott Molloy (No. 3) vs. Portage’s Kris Rumph (No. 7); 145, New Palestine’s Jared Timberman (No. 2) vs. Culver’s Triston Rodriguez (No. 6); 152, Indian Creek’s Elijah Dunn (No. 5) vs. Perry Meridian’s Brett Johnson (No. 6); and 170, Brownsburg’s Nathan Walton (No. 2) vs. South Bend Riley’s Tristan Goering (No. 6).
IF YOU GO
What: Indiana High School Athletic Association wrestling state finals
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
When: first round, 6 p.m. Friday; quarterfinals, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with semifinals to follow; consolations, 5 p.m. Saturday; finals, 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Cost: $8 per session or $20 both days.
TV: Saturday’s championship matches will be shown live on Fox Sports Indiana.