NEW PALESTINE — Jared Timberman isn’t trying to be cocky. He just knows what he wants — to be a champion. Period.
When the New Palestine senior elaborates on his ambition, the top-ranked 145 pound wrestler is quick to break down the plan. No stalling on the mat or off.
“Falls are what I’m trying to go to,” Timberman said. “I just try to go out there and stick people as fast as I possibly can. I try to frustrate people, so they try to wrestle me the way I want them to wrestle. I try to get them out of position, so I can hopefully get that fall I want so much.”
And with each match so far this season, he’s made his case quite clear — 30 times to be exact.
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Earning the state’s No. 1 ranking by Indiana Mat, nothing has been handed to him. Already beating three of the top six wrestlers in his weight class, Timberman stands at a perfect 30-0, four wins shy of his single-season best set last year.
He has 25 pins to his credit and, more importantly, he’s becoming a known commodity, precisely what he’s worked toward since last February.
“Everyone keeps telling me that I’m putting a big target on myself, and I understand that. But I’ve always wanted to try to be No. 1. I’ve always wanted to win state,” Timberman said. “I’ve put the work in, and it’s finally starting to pay off.”
While taking a step deeper through the state tournament every postseason the past three years only to fall short of his goal, Timberman isn’t consumed by the past, he’s motivated by it.
Each failure, he confesses, has been invaluable. They’ve taught him how to deal with disappointment, identify a weakness and guide him to a revelation about himself.
“Ever since last year, I’ve picked it up a little bit more,” Timberman said. “I haven’t made it to state yet, and I’m trying my hardest to get there. This summer, I went looking for better matches against those top-ranked kids and wanted to wrestle some of the best in the nation.
“I’m just trying to make a name for myself because I want to wrestle in college. I’ve been getting some Division III looks, and I’m hoping to pick up a few more.”
A regional qualifier as a freshman at 132, Timberman placed fifth to finish his inaugural high school campaign at 30-13.
His sophomore year, he reached regional again after placing fourth at sectional for a second consecutive season. Losing to Perry Meridian’s Brandon James, the 2013-14 state runner-up at 132, in the first round at regional, Timberman posted a 27-8 record.
In his third go-round, he captured his first-career sectional title, placed second at regional, losing once again to James, and advanced to his first semistate in New Castle with 33 wins.
Running into the eventual 138-pound state champion in Tommy Cash of Lawrence North, Timberman was derailed in the round-to-go by decision 5-2 at semistate with a record of 34-6.
“Losing to the Cash kid from (Lawrence North), that was difficult for him. He was right there,” coach Chad Red recalled. “Jared was definitely a top-8 place-winner in the state last year, but because of the way our system is set up, without wrestle backs, he was done.
“He’s hungry to get to the next level, no doubt, and he wants to go off to college. This is all part of it. He’s beat two state runner-ups already. I’m very pleased with Jared in terms of effort and progress.”
Timberman said he believes he can do more.
In preparation for his run at state, he trained at the Red Cobra Wrestling Academy, run by coach Red, and crammed in nearly 80 matches during the offseason while competing with the Funky Monkeys Wrestling Club out of Michigan and the Indiana Outlaws.
Fifty of those matches occupied his summer months with trips taken to the NUWAY Summer Nationals in New Jersey, the Grand River Rumble in Michigan and Flo Nationals in Pennsylvania.
Fixated squarely on folkstyle instead of alternating from freestyle or Greco-Roman, Timberman increased his foot speed and explosiveness after recovering from a torn meniscus as a sophomore freestyle club wrestler.
“My junior year I decided I was just going to do folkstyle and focus on that,” Timberman said. “It made more sense than switching between styles, and I think it’s helped me a lot. I’m better on my feet and better on top and bottom. It helped me build up my stamina.”
He’s been flawless in marquee matches as a result.
During the Evansville Mater Dei Holiday Classic last month, Timberman, who was ranked sixth in the state at the time, beat top-ranked Joe Lee by decision 5-3 in overtime to win the 145-pound tournament title.
Lee of Mater Dei was a state runner-up at 138 a year ago as a freshman. Prior to the victory, Timberman knocked off, then ranked seventh at 152, Austin Bethel of Mt. Vernon (Posey) by decision 5-3 in the 145-pound semifinals.
Bethal is currently ranked sixth at 145.
In a dual meet against Franklin Central, Timberman passed his third test by scoring some revenge with a 4-3 decision against third-ranked Jordan Vaughn, who had bested the Dragon previously in the state tournament at sectional.
The victory further solidified his placement among the state’s elite, but not if you ask Timberman.
“Honestly, I don’t really care about the ranking. I care about what happens in February. I care about state, but first, I have to make it there. I don’t want to stay content,” he said.
“I might be No. 1, and maybe some people don’t think I deserve it, and I understand that. I don’t think I deserve it. I always feel like I’m No. 2 chasing No. 1, having to get better, having to pick it up at practice. I believe once you stay content, you lose matches.”
Coming off a 4-0 performance at the New Palestine Open last weekend, he faces a new challenge at Yorktown on Saturday in the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet.
As the tournament’s top-seeded wrestler, his biggest foe is projected to be Yorktown’s Brad Laughlin, a two-time state qualifier. Ranked fourth in the state, Laughlin placed fifth during the state tournament at 138 last year.
“Last year, I got second to him,” Timberman said with sharp agitation. “I was up with 10 seconds left and got out of position and got reversed. I lost by one point. It was definitely a bad time. I kind of psyched me out a little bit. I was mad at myself for a while for not getting it done because sophomore year I was second, too.”
This time could be different.
“I was trying to make a name for myself last year, but it just didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. I’m looking to change that this year. I just have to focus on staying in position and not getting too overwhelmed with myself and stay in control of the match.”