GREENFIELD — This time a year ago, Greenfield-Central’s Carter Noehre stepped on the mat inside the Fargo Dome in North Dakota alone.
This year, the incoming senior won’t have to look far to find a familiar face for his second consecutive go-around.
A national qualifier in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, Noehre made the nearly 900-mile one-way trip to the prestigious USMC/USAW Cadet/Junior Nationals late last week along with Cougars’ teammates Larry Evans and his younger brother, Cooper Noehre.
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The close-knit group of friends are three of five Greenfield-Central wrestlers that advanced to the national spotlight, which spans over eight days through two tournaments that concludes on Saturday.
“I’m excited to be in it. I’m pretty confident this year. I wasn’t as much last year, but I feel better about it this year,” Carter Noehre said. “I know what’s going on, and I feel I can use that this year. Plus, there are a couple of people on my team competing.”
Carter Noehre, who was 42-4 at 120 pounds during last year’s high school season, has been on a tear this off-season for the Greenfield Wrestling Club, finishing first in five tournaments since qualifying for his first career Indiana High School Athletic Association state finals this past February.
He placed first in the Warren Central Greco Autism Awareness Tournament on April 14 at 138 pounds. He moved up to 145 and won the Warren Freestyle tournament a day later.
Noehre followed up those title runs with a pair of first-place showings during Southport’s Wild Card Iron Man event on April 21 and 22.
At the Indiana State Wrestling Association’s state finals this past May, Noehre won both the Junior freestyle and Greco-Roman championships at 138 to qualify for another shot at All-American honors in Fargo.
Noehre advanced to nationals last off-season after becoming the program’s second Greco-Roman state champion in school history.
Though, he was the team’s lone competitor, Cooper, an in-coming sophomore, tagged along for the trip across state lines. It left a lasting impression on the 2016-17 semistate qualifier.
“That was one of goals this year, to go to Fargo and wrestle, because last year my brother wrestled there, and it really motivated me to go there and step on the mat,” said Cooper Noehre, who was 30-13 as a freshman at 138 for the Cougars.
Cooper won the 145-pound ISWA Cadet freestyle state title this summer and was second in Greco-Roman to earn his spot at nationals.
Evans, an in-coming senior, was a New Castle Semistate qualifier in 2016-17 and posted a 29-15 record. He was fifth at 132 during the ISWA Junior freestyle state finals and placed third in Greco-Roman.
Gavin Rose, an in-coming junior at Greenfield-Central, also qualified for Fargo, along with in-coming senior Brad Lowe. Rose, a two-time IHSAA state qualifier, placed seventh at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last February at 113 with a 38-10 record. Lowe, who was 38-8, qualified for state.
Rose placed second at ISWA Cadet freestyle state and was third in Greco-Roman at 120. Lowe was second in the Junior divison for Greco-Roman and fifth in freestyle.
Both were unable to compete at nationals due to upcoming mission trips, however, Greenfield-Central head coach Josh Holden said.
Mt. Vernon’s Chase Wilkerson, an in-coming junior, joined the Cougars at nationals this week as a Junior freestyle competitor after placing third at 120 during the ISWA state finals. He was 40-9 at 120 as a sophomore for the Marauders this past high school season.
“I hope this leads to the kids realizing they can wrestle on a bigger stage if they work hard,” Mt. Vernon head coach Chad Masters remarked.
For the Noehre’s, they’ve known little else since the high school season ended.
Along with Rose, Lowe and Evans, the brothers train at the Central Indiana Academy of Wrestling in Lawrence with head coach Brady Eppert. The wrestlers and their club teammates have attended several camps, including New Palestine’s All-American clinic last week.
Carter Noehre has spent time at the University of Indianapolis for their summer camp, drilling with elite prep state contenders and collegiate wrestlers.
“I’m hoping not to just make state but win state this year. I’ve been wrestling a lot of people that placed high at state through club,” Noehre said. “I think I’ll do well, and I think the whole team will. We could have five or six make it to state this year with multiple placers.”
Last season, the Cougars were 18-8 as a team and placed second at the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet and were third at sectional. They pushed through six wrestlers to semistate and three state qualifiers.
Carter Noehre and Lowe both won sectional and regional titles. The former also won conference, but he believes his brother could be even better and at a much faster rate.
Picking up the sport in the sixth grade, Cooper broke the varsity lineup immediately as a freshman. Carter worked his way up after deciding to focus on wrestling his eighth-grade year, which was cut short when he suffered a broken arm.
Both fuel each other’s drive to be the best.
“From last summer, he’s gotten a lot better. We wrestle a lot. We’ve been going to a lot of practices,” Carter Noehre said. “I don’t ever want to lose to him, so if we wrestle each other we kind of go at it. But I have more experience, so that helps me.”
Cooper has been actively trying to narrow the gap, and the knowledge he gains at nationals could help in his pursuit.
“He pushes me a lot because whenever we wrestle, but he usually beats me,” Cooper Noehre said. “I don’t like that, so I’m always trying to get an upper hand on him whenever I can.
“I think I’m seeing results because Carter and I haven’t taken a break since season. After Fargo, we’re going to take a little break and let our bodies heal, and then right back at it once school starts.”
Every opportunity counts toward the end goal, Holden remarked. Witnessing an unprecedented increase in off-season dedication by his wrestlers this summer, Holden hopes the confidence and savvy developed in July will put them in position for a historic 2017-18.
“We’ve had a great offseason. (Fargo) is the No. 1 tournament for high schoolers in the country, so everyone will be there. I don’t think we’ve had more than one qualify before, so to have five is a great showing,” Holden said.
“It’s gone from one person to two or three to what where we’re at now with 17 kids at two different summer camps. When I started there wasn’t anyone going to a national tournament unless I was paying for them and driving them. It’s unbelievable the kind of kids we have in the program and their parents.”