NEW CASTLE — Noah Grable is returning to downtown Indianapolis.
A few blocks from where he won a football state championship in November, the New Palestine senior will aim for ultimate wrestling glory beginning Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Grable, a 220-pound senior, finished fourth at the New Castle Semistate on Saturday to qualify for the state finals.
“This is just kind of icing on the cake for him,” New Palestine wrestling coach Chad Red said of Grable, a Marian University football commit.
Grable won his first two matches Saturday, then fell in the semifinal and third-place matches. No matter on the losses, however; a wrestler only needed to win their first two matches to advance.
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Following Grable’s second win of the day — in the “ticket round” — Red hoisted a beaming Grable off his feet.
An all-state football selection, Grable was on the fence about hitting the mat after a long football season that concluded with a Class 4A state title win at Lucas Oil Stadium, Red noted.
“I’m overwhelmed with excitement for him, because he was kind of on the bubble at first,” Red said after Grable beat Rushville’s Tristenn Miller 9-8 to secure his spot at Bankers Life. “He told me right when he got through (against Miller), he said, ‘Coach I’m so thankful that I stuck it out.’ Makes you feel good, it really does.
“I’m glad he stuck this one out, because he definitely helped our team, helped the program, and, obviously, helped himself. It was a win-win all around.”
Grable (22-9) will be joined in Indy by teammates Chad (C.J.) Red, Alec White and Cameron Diep.
C.J. Red, at 126 pounds, pinned all four of his semistate foes Saturday. The four victims had a combined record of 123-22 entering the tournament.
The nation’s top-ranked grappler in his weight class, C.J. Red moved to 43-0 on the year with his win by fall against Perry Meridian’s Ngun Uk in the title match.
“I made a goal, as soon as the brackets came out,” C.J. Red said. “I posted on my locker. I looked at it everyday. It said, ‘Fall, Fall, Fall, Fall, C.J. Red, Finals.’”
C.J. Red beat Uk by tech fall (18-3) last week for the regional title. The defending two-time state champ hopes that was the final victory this season that didn’t come via sticking someone’s shoulders to the mat. C.J. Red pinned three of his four state finals opponents a year ago to win the 120-pound championship. He wants to do one better this weekend.
“Four matches … four pins,” he said. “It’s whoever steps out there on the mat, I’m going to take it to them exactly like I did today.”
He added it’s important to keep looking for areas of improvement and to set new goals.
“I know I can do a lot things better,” said C.J. Red, a junior. “Like, half of my shots, I know I shoot from far away. Just grabbing the leg, I feel like I can pull that in. But, I need to set them up, get in closer, to set up my shots and score.”
C.J. Red added he was “90, 95 percent” healthy after battling a flu-like condition the last few weeks.
White placed fourth in the state finals last winter, and the Dragons’ sophomore will enter the Indy tournament this weekend coming off a third-place semistate finish.
The 113-pounder breezed through his first two matches Saturday, then got caught and stuck by Cathedral’s Skylour Turner in the semifinals.
In the third-place bout, White trailed Beech Grove’s Ethan Smiley most of the way before securing a takedown in the closing seconds that provided a 4-3 win.
The victory meant White will face a second-place semistate finisher in the state finals’ first round on Friday. Fourth-place semistate wrestlers are paired against semistate winners from elsewhere in the state, while semistate spots second and third face off. A wrestler must win Friday night at Bankers Life to advance to Saturday morning’s quarterfinals. The state finals conclude 7:30 p.m. Saturday with the championship matches.
“Alec, he had one match that didn’t go his way,” Chad Red said. “But we’ll be okay. Alec is a gamer. He was kind of asleep that whole match until 10 seconds to go. He was not in the match, and was still worried about how he got pinned. You’ve got to let that stuff go. Now we’ll have six days to get ready and I think we’ll be a little bit more over that.”
White is 40-4 on the season. Diep, a junior, grabbed fourth at 106 and is 41-3.
The Dragons’ Jared Timberman (34-6), a junior, and Landan Burton (22-17), a freshman, did not place at 136 and 195, respectively.
Timberman won his first match Saturday morning, then faced off against former New Palestine wrestler and current Lawrence North junior Tommy Cash with a spot at Bankers Life on the line. Cash pulled out a 5-2 win and went on to finish semistate runner-up to Perry Meridian’s Brandon James.
Cathedral won the team title with 103.5 points, ahead of Warren Central (102), Hamilton Southeastern (78), Perry Meridian (67), Lebanon (54.5), New Palestine (46) and Lawrence North (43).
The Irish won the state title, as well, last season with 73 points. The Dragons placed fifth with 50. New Palestine likely isn’t deep enough this time around to compete for the team championship. But, this is a program that always has ambition.
“Our goal is to get all four of those guys on the podium,” Red commented.
The season ended at New Castle for Eastern Hancock junior Jared Waterman, as well as a pair of Greenfield-Central seniors — Taylor Wright and Cameron Nuckols.
Wright won his opening-round 126-pound match 9-0 against Frankton’s Skyler Collins. In the ticket round, Zach Melloh of Cathedral edged Wright 7-5. At 170, Nuckols fell in the first round, 11-10, to Frankfort’s Alex Ragains. Wright finished his senior campaign 31-7. Nuckols went 28-4.
For the Royals’ Waterman (39-5), he suffered a 9-5 loss to North Montgomery’s Jesse Archer in the 160-pound first round. Archer finished third.
New Palestine native and Cathedral senior Ben Harvey (42-1) won the 170-pound championship.
IHSAA Wrestling State Finals
Site: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 125 S. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis.
Admission: $8 per session or $20 both days.
Television: Saturday’s state championship bouts in each weight class will air live on Fox Sports Indiana.
Webstream: All matches will be streamed at IHSAAtv.org.
First Round: 6 p.m.
Quarterfinals: 9:30 a.m. with semifinals to follow
Consolations: 5 p.m.
Finals: 7:30 p.m.
New Castle Semistate
Team results: 1. Indianapolis Cathedral 103.5. 2. Warren Central 102, 3. Hamilton Southeastern 78, 4. Perry Meridian 67, 5. Lebanon 54.5, 6. New Palestine 46, 7. Lawrence North 43, 8. Roncalli 28, 9. Richmond 24, 10. South Dearborn 21, 10. Southmont 21
With weight, place, semistate record/overall record. Top four each weight class advance to State Finals. DNP=Did not place.
106: 4. Diep (2-2/41-3)
113: 3. White (3-1/40-4)
126: 1. Red (4-0/43-0)
138: DNP, Timberman (1-1/34-6)
195: DNP, Burton (0-1/22-17)
220: 4. Grable (2-2/22-9)
160: DNP, Waterman (0-1/39-5)
126: DNP, Wright (1-1/31-7)
170: DNP, Nuckols (0-1/28-4)