INDIANAPOLIS — Minutes after pinning Bellmont’s Daniel Gunsett in 59 seconds to open the IHSAA wrestling state finals Friday night, Chad (C.J.) Red needed to walk it off.
Pacing through the hallways inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the three-time state champion had to shake off the mishap from his 132-pound first-round match.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation and in the state at a perfect 180-0 in his high school career, Red knew everyone was gunning for him. Gunsett proved it in the first minute.
Drawing oohs and ahs from the crowd, Gunsett executed a perfect fireman’s carry and put Red on his back for a fraction of a second before the All-American flipped back over and never allowed a takedown to score.
Though, Red differed with the call afterwards.
“I would have given him two,” he mouthed to himself after the match. “Wait until tomorrow.”
Despite the scare, which is a longstanding Friday night tradition at the state finals, the New Palestine Dragons’ trio of qualifiers “took care of business,” pushing on to this morning’s quarterfinals.
“It’s a point now where anything can happen any given day, so we just have to make sure we’re a little bit ahead of the game,” New Palestine head coach Chad Red Sr. said. “The jitters are gone now with all three of our guys, now we have three matches left.”
No. 2 Alec White (43-1) made up for last year’s first-round shortfall with a close win by decision 3-2 against No. 10 Alex Mosconi (34-4) of Indian Creek.
Opening the 113-pound in a scoreless tie through one period, White fell behind 2-1 in the second before taking the lead for good in the third with a reversal.
“It’s Friday night. You know what’s at stake. It’s in the back of your head, but I knew it wasn’t happening again,” White said. “I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”
With 35 seconds left, White, who started the period down, worked for the two points instead of the escape and was able to overpower the freshman. The junior rode out the remaining 30 seconds to setup a quarterfinals meeting with No. 14 Geoffrey Davis (33-3) of Fort Wayne Wayne in the morning.
“I knew at state, everyone is going to be tough,” White said. “But I knew how hard I have worked to make sure it doesn’t happen. We worked too hard this week for us only to have one match this week.”
Jared Timberman (41-4), ranked second in the state, defeated Triston Rodriguez (38-4) of Culver Community by decision 5-1.
The 145-pounder will not see No. 3 Joe Lee (29-2) of Evansville Mater Dei in the quarterfinals. The two met in during the Mater Dei Holiday Classic two months ago.
Timberman beat Lee in overtime.
“He’s a pretty tough kid. I just have try to control the match and stay in good positions and not let him get to my legs like I let this kids do,” Timberman said. “I have to keep my defense better.”
Red, who improved to 41-0 on the year, will face 10th-ranked Jack Tolin (41-4) in the 132-pound quarterfinals.
“We have to come out and get a little bit more fluid on our feet instead of just grabbing people,” Red Sr. said. “He rebounded and took care of business, and now we have three matches to go.”
Greenfield-Central’s Gavin Rose, who qualified for his first state finals, lost by fall to No. 2 Ty Mills of Brownsburg in 1:47.
Rose was ranked 16th in the state at 106 pounds this season and was the first freshman state qualifier for the Cougars since Josh Farrell in 2010.