INDIANAPOLIS — The disappointment was difficult for Greenfield-Central seniors Carter Noehre and Brad Lowe to hide, not that they wanted to.
Driven to be state champions throughout their final season, the Cougars’ duo wore their emotions openly as the painful reality sunk in on Saturday during the Indiana High School Athletic Association wrestling state finals.
Their subdued reaction at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis mirrored their passion both as athletes and as people, Greenfield-Central head coach Josh Holden remarked on his two state place-winners.
It’s who they are, the coach said, and why it hurt so much.
Noehre, a two-time state qualifier, capped his career with a fifth-place finish at 132 pounds, while Lowe, who was also making his second career state appearance, placed sixth at 170 pounds.
It was a grueling ride with highs and lows as both advanced out of Friday night’s elimination round for the first time and later felt the sting of losing their quarterfinal matches the next morning.
“They’re hurting. Life’s not always fair. The kid who deserves to win or you think deserves to win doesn’t always win,” Holden said. “But Carter brought it up once, and I brought it up once. Some of these kids who are contenders, when they lose a match, they don’t wrestle the same way the rest of the day. Carter Noehre did. Brad Lowe did. That’s the kind of kids they are. They aren’t going to change. To them, that’s the right thing to do. You come out and wrestle every match as hard as you can.”
Noehre and Lowe never betrayed themselves, claiming medals together as the program’s first double place-winners in the same year since 2012. Their performances gave the Cougars three state medalist in two years.
“I just had to refocus. It hurt a lot when I lost (in the quarterfinals) because I had a goal to be a state champ. Obviously, I couldn’t do that, so I just had to wrestle back and get fifth,” Noehre said.
Noehre, who entered the state finals ranked seventh at 132, won his Friday night match with a 10-2 major decision over Western’s 12th-ranked Hunter Cottingham. But, he faced defeat in the quarterfinals by decision 10-6 against Culver Academies second-ranked Manzona Bryant (39-1), who placed third at state.
Down 4-0 in the match, Noehre battled back, but he couldn’t close the gap.
“I knew it was going to be a tough match, and I don’t think I wrestled completely like myself. I didn’t go after him as much. I did more in the second and third period, but I just gave up too many back points,” Noehre said. “I just gave up too many.”
Noehre (33-2) regrouped, however, winning out the rest of the day, defeating Jimtown’s ninth-ranked Matt Gimson (46-5) by decision 6-3 in the consolation round. He finished out the day 2-1 overall with a 4-1 decision over Yorktown’s Alex Barr (48-3) in the fifth-place consolation final.
“I’m pleased that I won my last match,” said Noehre, who will continue his career at NCAA Division II Colorado School of Mines. “The last match, I wanted that one, but it hurt watching Brad lose. He beat that kid two times this year. He got caught. That hurt.”
Lowe (42-6) lost his state quarterfinals match in the morning by fall in 1 minute, 40 seconds to eventual state runner-up Jordan Rader (45-2) of Peru, who was ranked fourth in the state this season.
“It didn’t end up going the way I wanted it to, and that (stinks) pretty bad,” Lowe said. “But that’s one of the crazy things about wrestling, wrestling tournaments and especially state. It’s so much of a mental thing. Even though I only wrestled three times today, it felt like I wrestled so much more. The mental can wear on you, but you have to come back for each match.”
Lowe recovered with an 8-0 major decision against Frankton’s sixth-ranked Cody Klettheimer (42-4) in the consolation round, but dropped his final match for fifth place by fall in 2:07 against Roncalli’s Elijah Mahan, who he had beaten twice prior.
“The second one I came back stronger, but the third one, I think for any senior getting ready for it, is hard because you know it’s going to be your last one. I tried to go out there the best I could,” said Lowe, who wrestled his last career matches at state. “We got into some funky situations, and what happened, happened.”
More than the final result, though, Holden won’t soon forget the journey both team leaders and close friends shared. Late starters in the eighth grade, the duo worked to reach each opportunity, becoming the program’s 51st and 52nd state qualifiers in Cougars wrestling history.
“After my last match, I started crying a little bit. It’s a sad thing because I love this sport. I know I’ll be wrestling in college, but it’ll be different because I won’t be with them anymore. It’s like a family. I’ve been with them for so long,” Noehre said.
“Obviously, I wanted more but what’s done is done,” Lowe added. “You kind of have to accept it. Being sixth, how many kids in the state can say that? It’s nothing to hang my head about.”