INDIANAPOLIS — For New Palestine’s lower weight classes, losses aren’t taken lightly.
Defeats are few and far between for a wrestling group led by Chad (C.J.) Red and Alec White, so when Cameron Diep suffered the first setback of his career Jan. 31 at the Warren Central Sectional, the Dragons went to work.
“I was like, ‘Cameron, I’m going with you,’” Red, a junior, said of his practice declaration the Monday following Diep’s 17-7 sectional title loss to Warren Central’s Keyuan Murphy. “I went with him three days out of the week and I said, ‘We’re going to beat this Warren kid no matter how hard, how close. We’re going to come out with the ‘W.’’ And that’s what we did.”
In one of the closest matches of the Perry Meridian Regional on Saturday, Diep came from behind to get his revenge against Murphy.
With the duo again battling for a championship, Diep trailed 8-6 heading into the third and final two-minute period.
Diep, ranked No. 4 in the state, shot on Murphy immediately, hoping for a takedown. The New Palestine junior only managed to grab a leg, however, and worked the rest of the period to get behind the Warriors’ 18th-ranked grappler. With 10 seconds remaining, Diep finally got control of Murphy and was awarded two points to send the match into overtime, where Diep finished off a 10-8 triumph.
“We do six-minute drills (in practice), so we have to keep moving with a 25-pound weight vest on,” Diep said. “I knew I had to keep going or I was going to lose the match.”
Diep, in his first season in the varsity lineup, improved to 39-1.
“I wrestled a lot smarter,” added Diep, who, along with teammates White, Red, Jared Timberman, Landan Burton and Noah Grable, advanced to the New Castle Semistate. “I don’t think I was intimidated this time. Last (week), I was just nervous because it was my first time being varsity in a sectional championship. This time, I knew what to expect.”
No. 5 White (37-3) and No. 1 Red (39-0) successfully defended their regional titles Saturday at 113 and 126, respectively, while No. 8 Timberman (33-5 at 136), Burton (22-16, 195) and No. 17 Noah Grable (20-7, 220) finished second.
The top four wrestlers in each weight regional weight class advanced to semistate, one step away from the IHSAA State Finals, Feb. 20 and 21 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The New Palestine semistate contingent likely would have numbered seven, but 120-pound sectional champ and 20th-ranked Eugene Starks (35-4) missed practice all week with a virus and was unable to compete.
“I’m pleased with these guys’ effort,” New Palestine coach Chad Red said. “Landan Burton, coming in here (as a freshman) and getting second is outstanding. Noah Grable, his first time making it to semistate, and our goal is to make him a two-time all-state place winner. All-state football, same here — all-state in wrestling. We’ve got goals set for all these guys.”
Grable, a senior, was a standout for the Dragons’ title-winning football squad.
Timberman and Grable lost championship decisions Saturday, while Burton was pinned by Perry Meridian’s fourth-ranked Tristen Tonte (37-1).
Red pinned his first-round opponent Saturday, then won his final two matches by technical falls, outscoring his foes 34-3, including Perry Meridan’s Ngun Uk, 18-3, in the championship. Uk, ranked No. 6, had a 36-1 record prior to facing Red.
Taking on Ethan Smiley for the fourth occasion this season, White beat the Beech Grove freshman 4-3 in the 113 title bout.
“I thought Alec probably wrestled the best he has all year,” coach Red said. “Timberman, got tech falled here last year, closed the gap by seven points this time. Our kids are starting to peak, and that’s what you want.
“That kid Chad wrestled, I didn’t realize he was like 34-1 (entering the day). And it wasn’t too close of a match. Hopefully, we can just keep building off of what we did right today, and come in on Monday and be ready to go at it again.”
Perry Meridian won the team regional title with 207 points, ahead of the host Warriors (174) and New Palestine (116.5).
The top four wrestlers in each weight class at New Castle will advance to the state finals.
Cougar senior takes title
A non-regional qualifier as a freshman, Greenfield-Central’s Cameron Nuckols finished fifth at Perry Meridian as a sophomore and was runner-up last season.
Saturday, the senior defeated Triton Central’s Anthony Bear in the 170-pound regional championship.
“Definitely, coach Holden,” said Nuckols, attributing his consistent improvement to head coach Josh Holden. “I don’t know what I’d do without him. Last year, he got an injury to his neck, and I didn’t know if he was going to come back and coach, and it was definitely a morale booster when he came back. I just love him to death; he pumps me up.”
Nuckols, 28-3 and ranked No. 8, also has come to love wrestling. He was relatively late joining the sport, initially participating to stay in offseason shape for football, where he was a two-way starter for the Cougars throughout most of his four seasons.
”Freshman year, it was just difficult going into wrestling practice and getting beat on everyday,” Nuckols said with a laugh. “And then you get like a craving for working hard, and the blood and sweat and getting beat up. I don’t know, you get a good feeling out of working your (butt) off.”
Nuckols will be joined in New Castle by fellow senior and 15th-ranked Taylor Wright (30-6), who took third at 126 on Saturday.
Among Nuckols’ possible competition at New Castle is Indianapolis Cathedral senior and New Palestine native Ben Harvey.
The second-ranked Harvey improved to 38-1 on the year with a 170-pound regional title Saturday at Pendleton Heights.
Royal wrestler takes 2nd
In the Richmond Regional on Saturday, Eastern Hancock’s Jared Waterman placed second at 160 pounds, falling to undefeated Colton Gonzalez (31-0) of Connersville, 12-8, in the championship.
Waterman (39-4) is slated to face North Montgomery’s Jesse Archer (37-1) in the first round at New Castle.
Eastern Hancock coach Keith Oliver has been busy speaking to other coaches and compiling a scouting report on Archer, ranked No. 14.
“The kid is 37-1, so he must be very good,” Oliver said Sunday. “But, I believe we always have a shot. It’s semistate, and at this level everyone is pretty good. We will get back to work Monday and keep getting better. We will have plenty of guys in the room this week who can wrestle with (Waterman).”
Oliver added that Waterman and Archer each beat a Fishers wrestler by identical 4-2 scores.
“It’s going to be a great match,” he said.
South Dearborn won the regional team title with 132 points. New Castle (96) and Franklin County (78) were second and third.
Sophomore held out
Mt. Vernon sophomore Peyton Wuerch (22-9) was kept out of the regional after the head referee at Perry Meridian said the sophomore didn’t have proper medical clearance, according to Mt. Vernon head coach Chad Masters, who strongly disagreed with the decision.
Masters said Wuerch had the same clearance as in the sectional, where Wuerch was third.
“Really horrible situation,” Masters said.
Local wrestling regional results, Saturday. Top four in each weight class advance to New Castle Semistate, Saturday, 9 a.m.
At Warren Central
Team: Perry Meridian 207, Warren Central 174, New Palestine 116.5, Roncalli 48, Franklin Central 43.5, Triton Central 39, Pike 36, Greenfield-Central 32, Southport 27, Beech Grove 25.5
Advancing to semistate (with regional finish, record, weight)
Greenfield-Central: 1. Nuckols (28-3) 170; 3. Wright (30-6) 126.
New Palestine: 1. Diep (39-1) 106, 1. White (37-3) 113, 1. Red (39-0) 126, 2. Timberman (33-5) 138, 2. Burton (22-16) 195, Grable 220 (20-7).
Team: South Dearborn 132, New Castle 96, Franklin County 78, Richmond 68, Centerville 67, Lawrenceburg 63, Knightstown 46, Rushville 38, Union County 36, East Central 33.5, Shenandoah 32, Connersville 27, Milan 24, Batesville 20, Eastern Hancock 16
Advancing to semistate
Eastern Hancock: 2. Waterman (39-4) 160
“If I was one of the only ones who really cared, I’d have to push myself a lot harder. I’d have the same work ethic … but it’s just great to see these guys out there working as hard as I am. We all care about getting better.”
– Chad Red, New Palestine junior, two-time state champ and the nation’s top-ranked 126-pounder, on the importance of having motivated teammates