RICHMOND — It hasn’t quite been 365 days, but a day hasn’t passed where Jared Waterman doesn’t think back to last year’s New Castle Semistate.
The wrestling standout couldn’t have picked a worse time to have what Eastern Hancock wrestling coach Keith Oliver calls “his worst match of the year.”
“It was the worst I’ve seen him wrestle,” Oliver said of Waterman’s 9-5 loss at 160 pounds by decision to North Montgomery’s Jesse Archer in the semistate’s opening round.
Waterman agrees completely with his coach’s assessment.
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“Last year, I came out slow and didn’t move my feet. I watched the film of that match last week to see if I was making the same mistakes as last year. It was a good learning experience,” Waterman said.
The 152-pound senior will look to put that experience to good use this Saturday as he returns to New Castle for a second time and on a bit of a hot streak, having claimed the Tri Sectional and Richmond Regional titles.
Last week, Waterman pulled victory from the jaws of defeats, recording an escape in the final seconds to earn a come-from-behind decision 2-1 against Centerville’s Isaiah Michaels to captured the regional crown.
“It feels great. We wrestled three times this year, and I was able to beat him all three times in close matches,” said Waterman, who improved to 39-3 with the wins at regional. “He got better every match and it came down to the wire. I knew I had to get into a scramble and see what I could do. I hooked his ankle and was able to get two points.”
It was a little too close for Oliver’s liking, however, who jokes that he doesn’t know how many more matches like that his heart can take.
“Jared started slow, and I wondered when he’d kick it into gear. It came down to mat wrestling, and he came through in the clutch,” Oliver said.
Waterman will look to capitalize on his goal of advancing to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse when he squares off with Southport’s Brett Wright (35-10) in the first round.
“It won’t take much to motivate him. He’s a senior and he has said several times that wrestling in the state final is his goal,” Oliver said. “He’s now two wins away.”
“For him to be a state champion, it will take what he’s been doing — being a leader in the wrestling room, continue setting himself up for success and staying focused on the ultimate goal.”
Waterman admits he has “unfinished business” to tend to at New Castle.
“It will be the hardest two matches of my life,” he said. “The key was winning the regional and getting that fourth-place finisher. If I can get to the ticket round, anything can happen. I’ve waited for this opportunity and it really motivates me. Last year left a bad taste in my mouth, and I have a great chance.”
Joining him at New Castle will be Mitch Quinn, who took home fourth at 220 after losing by fall to New Castle’s Dalton Clouse in Richmond, and Josh Robinson, who dropped a 2-1 decision in the 285-pound third-place match to South Dearborn’s Sam Smith.
Quinn (18-12) opens semistate against Carmel’s Sam Hipple (40-1), while Robinson (28-10) opens against Tipton’s Dan Phifer (42-2).
“To have three of our six who made it to regional qualify for semistate is great,” Oliver said. “It is the third year we have had someone get to the next level.”
“For Jared, this is it,” Oliver added. “Mitch is a sophomore and Josh is a junior. … We’ve been able to advance wrestlers each year because of our consistency. The goal has been to get people to state, but to get someone there three straight years shows consistency.”