INDIANAPOLIS — The moment was almost too enormous for Alec White to process.
In a blink of an eye, the New Palestine senior found himself on his back, a heartbeat away from letting his chance at a state championship slip away, but he never panicked.
Instead, he flipped the switch to turn a sudden 2-0 second-period deficit into a five-point swing with one instinctive reversal and nearfall.
White cemented his spot in Indiana high school wrestling lore with a pin in 3 minutes, 32 seconds to win the 126-pound state title as the crowd of 12,456 erupted inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
A champion at last, the four-time state qualifier finally realized his dream by topping top-ranked Blake Mulkey (38-2) of Brownsburg under the spotlight of the 79th Annual IHSAA Wrestling State Finals.
“When I went to my back, I was like, keep wrestling, keep wrestling from every position,” White said. “I knew I had to end it there.”
A sixth-place finisher at 113 pounds last year and fourth at 106 as a freshman, White capped his career in jubilation, and the Dragons faithful donned in white T-shirts with “White Hot” printed on the front rejoiced in support.
“I didn’t know what to do,” White remarked. “After I won, I just looked over at the direction of the fans and let out a huge scream.”
What followed was a smile that he just might wear every day before heading to Purdue University this fall.
“This is the most fun ride ever,” White said. “It was all about enjoying the ride.”
His journey won’t soon be forgotten.
Predicted to lose in the elimination round on Friday night in Indianapolis, White defeated two-time state champion Colton Cummings of Lowell by decision 5-3 to advance into Saturday’s medal rounds.
After ending the state’s third-ranked wrestler’s season, White moved on to beat seventh-ranked Matt Lee of Evansville Mater Dei in the quarterfinals. In the state semifinals, he handed second-ranked Graham Rooks of Columbus East his first loss of the season with an 8-6 decision.
“He went through the field. He wrestled the No. 3 kid (Friday night), the No. 7 kid in the morning and he beat the No. 2 and No. 1 kid to win it,” New Palestine head coach Alex Johns said. “He went through the gauntlet.”
The finale revealed to everyone, especially his doubters, exactly who he was — a champion of character, grit and belief.
“He’s a tough hard-nosed kid, and he’s in it every match,” Johns said. “That was awesome. He capitalized in the situation.”
Read Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Reporter for more on Alec White’s state championship.