NEW CASTLE — New Palestine’s Alec White didn’t need any extra motivation at the New Castle Semistate on Saturday.
His memories were enough.
Finishing a disappointing third last postseason, which ultimately led to an opening-night letdown at the IHSAA state finals, White knew what he had to do.
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“Ever since last year, it left a sick taste in my mouth. The way I finished here and then how it carried into (state), I knew I had to finish high,” said White, who is ranked second in the state at 113 pounds by IndianaMat.com. “If I did, I knew I could give myself an even better chance to do well next weekend.”
White (42-1) put himself in prime position for state contention, winning his first career semistate championship with a pin, a pair of decisions and a tiebreaker finale.
He was joined by three-time state champion Chad Red, who clinched the 132-pound semistate title, marking his fourth consecutive.
Four Hancock County wrestlers overall punched their tickets to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for this weekend’s 78th annual state meet, which begins Friday night in Indianapolis.
Greenfield-Central’s Gavin Rose (20-9) placed fourth at 106, and New Palestine’s Jared Timberman (40-4) was third at 145, securing their spots as one of the top-16 competitors in their individual weight classes.
“It feels great,” Rose remarked after advancing to his first-career state meet. “I wrestled as hard as I could and it paid off.”
Rose, ranked 16th in the state, placed third at both the Shelbyville Sectional and the Perry Meridian Regional.
At semistate, he used a pin in 3:35 during his opening match to reach the ticket round. Against 18th-ranked Alex Strueder (40-5) of Fishers, Rose survived an ultimate tiebreaker match by riding out his opponent to press onto the semifinals as a state qualifier.
He will face second-ranked Ty Mills (33-4) of Brownsburg in the first round at state. Mills was state runner-up at 106 last year as a freshman.
“He’s going to state and he earned it,” Greenfield-Central head coach Ed Hamant said. “We thought at the start of the year he could make it.”
For Red (40-0), the question was how rather than if.
Recording two tech falls, a pin in 1:27 and a surprising 7-2 decision in the semifinals, the nation’s top-ranked wrestler in his weight class, according to InterMat, improved to 179-0 en route to his fourth straight state berth.
While dominating throughout, Red’s opening match drew a reaction from the crowd as Westfield’s Zachary Steele (24-8) scored an early reversal before the state’s top-ranked wrestler cruised to an 18-3 tech fall.
In the semifinals against Southmont’s 16th-ranked Boone Welliever (39-4), Red led 5-1 in the first period but surrendered a penalty point after recording a takedown in the second. He went scoreless the final two minutes.
It was only his second win by decision this season.
“There was no reason that match should have been that close. I really should have opened it up, but I was trying to do too much on top,” said Red, who is attempting to become the state’s third unbeaten four-time state champ.
“It’s all motivation because I know the crowd wants to see me lose, but I can’t let that happen. I have to wrestle each match like it’s my last.”
Timberman (40-4) fired out fast to secure his invitation to state, winning his first match by major decision 9-0 and in the quarterfinals by decision 7-3.
Hampered by a shoulder injury, the state’s second-ranked 145 pounder lost by major decision 16-8 to 20th-ranked Derrick Motley (28-3) of North Central in the semifinals.
He rebounded with a 1-0 decision versus Hamilton Heights’ Clayton Cowen (39-8) in the third-place consolation finals.
“I had to get that win,” said Timberman, who will compete in his first state meet. “I gave up points I shouldn’t have (in the semifinals). You have to bounce back from it. I didn’t wrestle as good as I could have in the last two matches, but I’m happy to get the win. I needed it.”
Timberman will see sixth-ranked Triston Rodriguez (38-3) of Culver in the opening round at state. White drew 10th-ranked Alex Mosconi (34-3) of Indian Creek.
As a freshman, White placed fourth at 106 in his first state appearance.
In preparation for his third straight trip to the state’s capitol, he won by fall in 4:49 and posted back-to-back 8-2 and 10-4 decisions to reach the semistate title match.
Anticipating another meeting with third-ranked Skylour Turner (41-3) of Warren Central, White instead was greeted by 12th-ranked Jordan Slivka (37-7) of Cathedral in the finals.
“I was expecting, if I got through, round four with (Turner),” said White, who ran into Turner in the sectional and regional finals prior. “You have to prepare for everything, though. It didn’t happen, so I had to get the job done against someone else.”
White beat Turner in the regional finals after losing to him in the sectional title match. In the 2014-15 semistate tournament, Turner, then with Cathedral, defeated White in the 113-pound semifinals.
The duo wrestled during the regular season with White winning in overtime, but Slivka halted the duo’s fourth match this season, winning by decision 7-3 against Turner (41-3) in the semifinals.
White led Slivka 2-1 in the second period, but the junior lost the lead in the third as the freshman slipped away for an escape. In overtime, White received a penalty point for a caution and was awarded an escape to win.
“I can’t leave it in the officials hands,” White remarked on the close match. “That’s the one thing coach (Chad Red) preaches, don’t leave it up to the guys in white and black. I don’t plan to do that next weekend.”
Eastern Hancock’s Jarod Waterman fell just short in his pursuit of a state finals berth, losing a hard-fought 6-5 decision to Frankton’s fourth-ranked Dru Berkebile (28-3) in the quarterfinals.Waterman (40-4), a senior, opened the day with a 9-6 decision against Southport’s Brett Wright (35-11) to reach the 152-pound ticket round.
The first wrestler since 2002 to win back-to-back sectional crowns, Waterman entered the semistate as a Richmond Regional champion.
• Greenfield-Central’s Carter Noehre lost by fall at 126 pounds to Franklin County’s 11th-ranked Johnny Loos (48-3) in 1:36.
Noehre (33-12) finished fourth at the Perry Meridian Regional and was third at the Shelbyville Sectional. He also took third at the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet this season.
Brad Lowe (32-9) was defeated by major decision 11-3 in the first round at 170.
The Greenfield-Central sophomore was runner-up at sectional and placed third at regional before being eliminated at semistate by Hamilton Southeastern’s Joe Mazero (28-9).
Lee Dullaghan fell to eighth-ranked Nick Fox (34-3) of Carmel by pin in 1:39. The 195-pounder was fourth at regional and sectional.
Like Lowe, Dullaghan was a HHC runner-up this season.
Cougars’ Cameron Wetli (27-12) lost to seventh-ranked Walter Hare (29-7) of North Central by decision 9-3.
Wetli, a junior, claimed the 220-pound HHC title this year. He was third at regional and runner-up at sectional.
• New Palestine’s Eugene Starks (30-8) was defeated by Isaiah Michaels (38-7) of Centerville by fall in 5:15.
Ranked 16th in the state at 152 pounds, Starks was an HHC champion as a senior. He was runner-up at sectional and third at regional.
Landan Burton (30-11), who was ranked 16th, lost by pin in 2:24 to North Montgomery’s 13th-ranked Cole Slavens (39-4).
A 195-pound regional runner-up, Burton, a sophomore, was also second at sectional. He won the HHC title this season.
• Eastern Hancock’s Mitch Guinn (18-13) was pinned by eighth-ranked Sam Hipple (33-2) of Carmel in 0:48 at 220.
Third at the Tri Sectional, Guinn, a sophomore, advanced to semistate with a fourth-place finish at the Richmond Regional.
Royals’ Josh Robinson (28-11), a junior, was pinned in the second period by Tipton’s Dan Phifer (45-3) in 3:27. Phifer would finish semistate runner-up at heavyweight.
Robinson reached semistate with a fourth-place run at regional and was a sectional champion.
• Mt. Vernon’s Peyton Wuerch (32-6) lost by decision 3-0 to Westfield’s Austin Dollens (25-13), who would finish fourth at semistate.
The Marauders’ heavyweight was ranked 20th in the state and advanced to his first semistate tournament with a fourth-place showing at the Perry Meridian Regional.
The junior was runner-up at both the Shelbyville Sectional and at the HHC tournament.