INDIANAPOLIS — Gavin Rose let the reality sink in on Saturday afternoon.
Falling short of his championship goal at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the two-time state qualifier embraced the disappointment, then he immediately turned the page.
“I still have next year and the year after that,” the Greenfield-Central sophomore emphasized. “The closer you get, the harder you have to work. This offseason is probably going to be the best offseason I’ve ever had.”
Rose placed seventh at 113 pounds during the 79th Annual IHSAA Wrestling State Finals and became the first state-place winner for the Cougars since heavyweight Tyler Beeson finished sixth in 2013-14.
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More importantly, though, he is only the second sophomore to achieve the feat since 2012-13 state champion Josh Farrell, a four-time placer in his career.
Like Rose, Farrell’s journey toward the top was a progression. He placed sixth as a freshman at 103 pounds in 2009-10. Farrell was seventh at 119 in 2010-11 and state runner-up in 2011-12 at 138 before winning it all at 152 as a senior.
“He got seventh, too, so I’m following that track,” Rose said. “He’s going to be in the room a lot more (as a volunteer assistant), and it’s going to be awesome.”
Rose, who advanced out of Friday night’s elimination round for the first-time in his career with an 8-4 decision against ninth-ranked Seth Horty of Evansville Memorial, wrapped up his season with a 38-10 record.
Next year, he intends to add three more wins after gaining more experience as one of the state’s top-eight in his weight class.
“It hasn’t been that long of a journey, two years. Most of us wait a lot longer than that to place,” Greenfield-Central head coach Josh Holden said. “I think for us, we knew we had an opportunity to be in the finals, and that’s going to motivate us going forward. Our goal is to be atop of the podium next year.”
Rose lost his first match on Saturday morning by a narrow 5-2 decision to eventual state runner-up Hunter Watts (48-3) of Jimtown. He led the two-time state-place winner 2-0 in the quarterfinals before a cradle and nearfall put Watts ahead.
In the consolation, Rose ran into a familiar postseason foe in Warren Central’s Skylour Turner (33-6), who pinned him in 3 minutes, 20 seconds before placing fifth overall.
Their meeting marked their fifth this year with Rose besting the senior in the sectional semifinals.
“It was one of my big goals to get here, and once I did and I won Friday night, my goal changed. I wanted to be on top,” Rose said. “But once I lost to Watts, my focus changed. If I trained harder, then I could be where he is, and maybe I would have had a chance to win it.
“I’m that close. I just have to get over that hump, and then I’m up there.”
Rose won the seventh-place consolation final by forfeit, pumping his fist as the Cougars’ fans showered him with cheers.
“He’s taking another step. He’s shown he’s progressed and has gotten better,” Holden said. “Every step you can take, especially when you’re a young guy, is another step in what you’re trying to do.”
Growing as a wrestler and a leader are his top offseason priorities.
As one of three state qualifiers for the Cougars this season, along with 170-pound junior Brad Lowe and 120-pound junior Carter Noehre, Rose believes there could be more widespread success in the future.
The trio pushed the program’s all-time state qualifiers total to 50 and marked the second-largest group to reach state since the Cougars had four in 2012 and 1986.
“I was a leader as a sophomore, and everyone looked up to me. Now, I have two more leaders that are going to be big dogs next year as seniors,” Rose said. “It’s going to be even better, helping our teammates accomplish the goals that we have.”