GREENFIELD — Though his job title at Greenfield-Central says strength and conditioning instructor, Josh Holden has never shied away from his true passion, or as he calls it, obsession.
Calculation is meditative for the Cougars’ head wrestling coach, and he’s crunched the numbers every which way since the Hoosier Heritage Conference Tournament seeding meeting earlier this week.
“I did teach remedial math for about three years, and I tutor kids in calculus in the weight room,” Holden quipped. “Math is sort of my thing, but it’s not just me. Ed Hamant and my other assistant coaches are really into it, too.”
With eight wrestlers seeded third or better — four in No. 1 spots — for Saturday’s 9 a.m. conference meet at Delta High School, Holden is adding up a potential runner-up finish for his team.
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His coaching staff agrees with his final figures, but the Cougars, themselves, aren’t satisfied with those estimations.
“If everyone wrestles to their seed, I think we get second. I told the guys that (Wednesday), and when I said that, every head dropped,” Holden remarked. “There wasn’t an excitement about maybe being second, it was a look like, wait, I don’t think so.”
The Cougars placed sixth at HHC last year while Delta was first with 232 points. Greenfield-Central had eight wrestlers finish in the top four with one champion and three runner-ups for 156.5 points.
This year, they are even with New Castle in top-three seeds. Yorktown leads the eight-team field with nine — four No. 1s and No. 2s — but the Cougars believe they have the formula to challenge for their first HHC team title since 2012.
It boils down to the team’s pre-conference mantra, Holden said, “27 strong, united as one, to get it done.”
“It’s about those little things, guys seeded fourth reaching the finals or winning third. Guys not seeded, placing in the top four and getting falls along the way. That adds up,” Holden said. “Even if you’re not wrestling that day, you’re preparing the kids that will. We are 27 strong. That’s our attitude going in.”
To surpass front-runner Yorktown, which won the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association’s Class 2A Team State Duals last month, the Cougars will need efficiency from their known commodities first and foremost.
In 2012, Holden’s group won the championship with domination from top to bottom. The lineup later produced four state qualifiers. While he sees similarities, Holden says the 2016-17 team has a different identity.
They’re workers determined to prove their championship pedigree.
Sophomore Gavin Rose (26-4) at 113 pounds and Carter Noehre (29-1) at 120 will be two key pieces to the Cougars’ success, holding top spots in their respective weight classes.
Rose, who is ranked seventh in the state by IndianaMat, was second in the HHC at 106 last year before becoming a freshman state qualifier last February.
With 16 pins this season, Rose has lost twice to second-ranked Alec Viduya of Roncalli by decision 9-8 and 2-0. His other two defeats were by decision at a combined four points to wrestlers ranked seventh or better in the state.
Ninth-ranked Noehre, who was third at HHC in 2016, has 20 pins this year after moving down from 126 to 120 for his junior campaign. He has just one loss to No. 3 Cayden Rooks of Columbus East.
Junior Brad Lowe leads the 170 bracket with a 27-4 record, and senior Lee Dullaghan is No. 1 at 195 with a 26-5 record after taking second at HHC last year.
What will determine the outcome, however, will be where the Cougars can disrupt presumptions.
At 106, Holden said he believes junior Luke Sheridan’s experience could propel him from his third seed into a potential championship match appearance against the state’s top-ranked Brayden Curtis (24-0) of Yorktown.
Senior Aaron Young (18-13) at 220, who only started wrestling two years ago, is a hard-nosed football player, along with heavyweight Hunter Gulden (15-11), a sophomore, where the Cougars would like to gain valuable points.
The anomalies, though, are with rivals Mt. Vernon, New Palestine, New Castle and Pendleton Heights, who could have final say in how the points unfold.
The Mt. Vernon Marauders are enjoying their most successful season in school history. Coach Chad Masters group has set a new program mark with 22 dual-meet wins and have a top HHC contender in senior heavyweight Peyton Wuerch (22-0), who has 13 pins on the year.
Marauders’ sophomore Chase Wilkerson (32-4) has 27 falls and is seeded third at 120 where New Castle’s Trevor Ragle (31-2) is seeded second.
Yorktown’s Christian Hunt (26-1), a two-time state qualifier, is ranked fourth in the state at 132. Tigers’ Eric Hiestand (25-1), who is ranked 16th at 152, is competing at 138 on Saturday, while New Castle’s Sam Buck, a senior, is a perfect 29-0 at 145.
Colt Rutter (25-5) is bumping up to 152 for Yorktown, though the junior is ranked eight in the state at 138.
At 160, top-ranked Brad Laughlin (27-1) of Yorktown, a three-time state qualifier, is the wrestler to beat. Mt. Vernon’s Drake Tackett (30-6), a senior, is seeded third at 160 with 19 falls on the year.
The Pendleton Heights Arabians have sixth top-three seeded wrestlers — four third — and Mt. Vernon carries five overall.
New Palestine’s 126-pound Alec White, a senior, is shooting for this fourth consecutive HHC title, rolling through is final year at a flawless 21-0. Ranked fifth in the state, White is a three-time state qualifier and two-time place winner.
Junior Landan Burton (20-4) gives the Dragons another shot at a champion at 220.
“New Palestine is getting better every day with (coach Alex) Johns over there. Mt. Vernon has done nothing but improved with Masters there. Our conference isn’t a joke,” Holden said. “It’s going to take all of our guys to come in and do this thing.”
State-Ranked HHC Wrestlers
106;(1);Brayden Curtis, Yorktown
113;(7);Gavin Rose, Greenfield-Central
120;(9);Carter Noehre, Greenfield-Central
126;(5);Alec White, New Palestine
132;(4);Christian Hunt, Yorktown
138;(8);Colt Rutter, Yorktown
152;(16);Eric Hiestand, Yorktown
160;(1);Brad Laughlin, Yorktown
285;(12);Jacob Rhoades, Yorktown
(no more than six losses)
Brayden Curtis, Yorktown;24-0
Nathan West, Delta;18-4
Gavin Rose, Greenfield-Central;26-4
Traye Owens, New Castle;19-2
Chase Wilkerson, Mt. Vernon;32-4
Trevor Ragle, New Castle;31-2
Carter Noehre, Greenfield-Central;29-1
Josh Stephenson, Yorktown;26-4
Tytus Ragle, New Castle;27-6
Elijah Bauer, Pendleton Heights;24-6
Alec White, New Palestine;21-0
Xayvier Curtis, Yorktown;21-4
Christian Hunt, Yorktown;26-1
Ben Avery, Pendleton Heights;26-5
Eric Hiestand, Yorktown;25-1
Sam Buck, New Castle;29-0
Alex Barr, Yorktown;26-4
Alex Johnson, Pendleton Heights;26-5
Colt Rutter, Yorktown;25-5
Corbin Hines, New Castle;21-6
Drake Tackett, Mt. Vernon;30-6
Brad Laughlin, Yorktown;27-1
Jeffrey Melton, New Castle;17-1
Brad Lowe, Greenfield-Central;27-4
Jacob Gray, Delta;23-2
Lee Dullaghan, Greenfield-Central;26-5
Dalton Clouse, New Castle;30-3
Landan Burton, New Palestine;20-4
Jacob Rhoades, Yorktown;26-2
Peyton Wuerch, Mt. Vernon;22-0