INDIANAPOLIS — Alec White can’t explain it either.
Crowned a champion for the fourth time in his career at the Perry Meridian Regional last Saturday, the New Palestine senior shook his head in astonishment after winning the 126-pound title.
There’s just something about regional.
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“For some reason I could never figure it out at sectional,” White laughed, “but I always bounce back here. I don’t really know why. Each week, obviously, gets more important, maybe that’s it.”
A two-time sectional champion as both a sophomore and a senior, White routinely gains traction as the postseason narrows.
His freshman year, White used his first regional championship as a launching pad toward a semistate runner-up placement at 106 pounds before taking fourth at state.
The next year, he catapulted to a third-place finish at semistate as a 113-pounder and qualified for this second straight state finals.
Last season, he reached another level at semistate, winning it all at 113 pounds before placing sixth at state.
Ranked fifth in the state by IndianaMat this year and going an unbeaten 32-0, White is zeroing in on a potential repeat Saturday at the New Castle Semistate en route to another shot at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Feb. 17.
“Each and every week you have to turn the page and go in like you’re 0-0,” said White, a Purdue recruit. “But if you keep winning and winning the confidence just keeps going up.”
Along with teammate Landan Burton, White has known nothing else since the state tournament started three weeks ago.
The tandem has combined for a 14-0 record this postseason with both claiming sectional and regional titles along the way. For Burton, a 220-pound junior, his sectional championship was his second in three years. The regional was his long-awaited first.
“The last two years I’ve lost in the finals to (Warren Central’s) Tristan (Tonte), so it means a lot more to me to come back here this time and win it,” Burton said. “I was happy to see him drop down (to 195), but coming in here I was still worried that it might happen again. But those losses pushed me.”
Burton (30-4) is making his third straight semistate appearance where he has something to prove.
Last year, he lost by fall at 2:47 in the opening round as a 195-pounder. As a freshman at 195, a major decision ended his day in the first round.
Burton, who is ranked 19th in the state, opens this year’s semistate against Cathedral’s Andy Guhl (20-10) with either Frankfort’s Corbin Mata (23-7) or Blake Ripperger (34-8) of Franklin County feeding into the ticket round.
“He had to get that good draw,” New Palestine head coach Alex Johns remarked on the importance of Burton’s regional title run. “I think the way we’re wrestling right now, we’re real excited about the future.”
White is savoring every win with a possible eight more matches ahead until the end.
At 152-17 in his career, White begins against Batesville’s Michael Deal (23-9) at semistate. The winner will wrestle either Zionsville’s John Gobeyn (27-9) or Brailen Harrington (29-9) of North Central for a state berth.
“These two guys, we knew they had the capability to be really successful this year,” Johns said. “You just have to keep grinding out the weeks, finding ways to win, and getting better each week.”