INDIANAPOLIS — With three State Finals appearances under his wrestling belt, Saturday’s regional championship was nothing extraordinary for Josh Farrell.
It was the fourth such title of his decorated career and, barring an upset, he’ll advance out of this weekend’s semistate at New Castle toward yet another appearance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis Feb. 15-16 for the final, 152-pound showdowns.
Yet, Farrell — one of three Hancock County regional grappling champs — has never enjoyed a postseason quite like this. The Greenfield-Central senior dominated his three regional foes Saturday, earning each win by technical fall, with a total score of 64-19.
“I was just talking to one of my buddies about that,” Farrell explained Saturday after the No. 2-ranked wrestler improved to 40-0 on the year. “I’ve just never felt more crisp in my life. I don’t know, I just feel like, of all the times I’ve ever peaked, I think this is the best one.
“I don’t even think I’ve peaked the most yet. I’ve still got two more weeks to get better, and I just feel real good about what’s going on right now.”
This is the furthest into a season Farrell has gone undefeated; he went 39-4 last season, finishing second at the state finals at 138 pounds.
The top four finishers in each weight class at New Castle will advance to Indy; wrestlers must win their first two matches Saturday to move on in the state tourney.
As a regional champ, Farrell earned a No. 1 semistate seed, meaning he won’t face another regional winner until at least the third, semifinal round at New Castle.Among his possible semifinal or championship foes Saturday could be Cathedral’s Vinny Corsaro, who improved to 40-2 on the year with a regional championship at Pendleton Heights Saturday.
Farrell, who will wrestle for Purdue University, beat the Irish junior 4-3 over the holiday break in December at Connersville.
“I’ll definitely have one or two tough matches (at New Castle),” Farrell said. “I could have Corsaro again. It was close the first time, but I just feel like I’m wrestling better now than I was at Connersville.
“So, we’ll see. You can’t overlook anyone.”
Farrell will be joined as a No. 1 seed by teammate Austin Rose (170 pounds) and New Palestine super freshman CJ Red (106).
While Farrell and Red — ranked No. 1 in the state at 40-0 — were expected to claim blue ribbons Saturday, Rose’s postseason blitz has been something of a surprise.
He entered last week’s sectional with a record of 23-7; a good mark, but not necessarily portending of a sweep of the sectional and regional fields.
But, Rose won a sectional championship at Warren Central, then pinned two opponents and scored a 6-4 decision in a third match to snare a regional title at Perry Meridian.
Rose is now 30-7. By comparison, the other 13 regional weight class winners have combined for only 14 losses.
“On some of those losses, it was like I just wasn’t into it,” Rose acknowledged. “I’m a senior, I’m not going anywhere to wrestle in college.
“Now, it’s like down to the wire and I understand this is all I have left. This is the end of my career right here. I’m pumped for it. I’m super excited. Every day of practice I go in with a smile, I go home with a smile. I don’t know, it’s just the feeling of ‘This is my last year.’”
Rose credited coach Josh Holden for continuing to have faith through the regular season defeats.
“I got beat, and you learn from your losses,” Rose said. “I’m glad I have those seven losses. I learned everything from them. Some of those losses, if I had to redo, it would be completely opposite.
“It wouldn’t even be close, because I know what I’m capable of now. Coach Holden, he brought the wrestler out of me that I could be.”
Holden and his coaching staff brought four wrestlers to the state finals last year, and four Cougars are still alive entering the semistate.
Farrell and Rose will be joined by teammates Sam Locke and Joe Hoskins Saturday. Locke, a junior, was the regional runner-up at 132 pounds, while Hoskins, a senior, took third at 160.
Locke, who joined Farrell at state last year, along with now-graduated Cougars Ian Early and Austin Gearlds, improved to 35-8 this season. Hoskins is 25-10.
New Palestine’s semistate contingent is even larger.
Red, with two pins and a 5-1 decision Saturday, was the Dragons’ only champ, but six other wrestlers will wear New Palestine singlets at New Castle.
Of those six, Brian Wagner (second at 182) was particularly impressive, handing Perry Meridian’s Jake Massengale (33-2) just his second loss of the season by 9-6 decision in the semifinals. Wagner went on to lose to Warren Central’s Katrell Moss (30-4) by a 4-3 score in the championship.
“Huge win,” New Palestine coach Chad Red said of Wagner’s triumph over the senior Massengale, who will wrestle at Indiana. “He had never beat him. And he closed the gap on Katrell as well.”
Moss defeated Wagner 5-1 for the sectional title at Warren Central.
Wagner’s cousin, Gordon Wagner, grabbed New Palestine’s other runner-up finish, at 138 pounds. This will be Gordon Wagner’s third semistate appearance; he has never made it to the state finals.
Rylan McCarty and Robbie Elsea were third-place finishers at 113 and 145 pounds, respectively. And Taylor Fee (126) and Nick Brickens (160) stood fourth on the podium to complete the Dragons’ seven-deep semistate contingent.
New Palestine brought 12 wrestlers into the tourney. The top four regional finishers qualified for semistate.
“We thought we might be able to get eight out,” Red said. “Got seven. (Gabe) Estes had a tough one, up 6-1 with 20 seconds left and gets pinned. That hurts, but that’s just got to make him stronger for next year, and just have to come back and be hungrier and want it next year.”
Estes, a sophomore, lost that first-round match Saturday, then won his final two matches by pin and a 15-0 technical fall decision.
“Not a bad day, overall,” Red said. “Obviously I wanted to get everybody out, but things don’t always happen the way you want them to. And if life was that easy, I guess I would be doing something else.
“I was pleased overall with our kids heart, our fight. We’ll come out and we’ll wrestle even better in New Castle.”
At the Richmond Regional Saturday, Eastern Hancock’s Nathan Kell finished fourth at 138 pounds to give Hancock County a dozen semistate qualifiers. Kell, a junior, is 31-10, and he will also compete at New Castle.
No local wrestler will take the mat at the world’s largest high school gymnasium with more momentum than Farrell, G-C’s all-time wins leader. With one exception.
Red, the Dragons’ freshman, ranked No. 7 nationally, pinned two opponents Saturday and won another match by 5-1 decision, which is considered close by his standards.
He pinned one sectional victim at Warren Central in six seconds, then won the championship by a 12-2 score.
At this point, Red’s toughest opponent might be boredom. Red’s 5-1 win Saturday was over Roncalli sophomore Ethan Briggeman in the semifinals.
“I wrestled him earlier in the season, I beat him 15-0,” Red said. “I don’t think I wrestled at my best this week at this tournament. I could have done a little bit more, maybe was a little tired.
“So, I’ve got to do a little bit more for next week. Got to get a little more tough. Get my weight down earlier so I can move faster.”
The youngster’s dad and coach has been impressed by his season-long focus.
“Just consistency is probably what I’m most proud of,” Chad Red said. “I know it’s my kid, but he doesn’t miss practice. He’s not late. He doesn’t complain.
“He’s only 14, and I think he’s done a heck of a job.”
IHSAA Wrestling Regional
Saturday at Perry Meridian
1. Perry Meridian, 230.5 points
2. Warren Central, 194
3. New Palestine, 139.5
4. Greenfield-Central, 104.5
5. Franklin, 97
6. Roncalli, 60.5
7. Beech Grove, 41
8. Ritter, 35
9. Shelbyville, 26
10. Pike, 25
20. Mt. Vernon 6
Hancock County wrestlers advancing to New Castle Semistate, next Saturday. Top four regional finishers in each weight class qualify for semistate.
(w/weight class, regional place, name, grade, record)
106 — 1. CJ Red (9), 40-0
113 — 3. Rylan McCarty (11), 34-6
126 — 4. Taylor Fee (12), 30-10
138 — 2. Gordon Wagner (12), 37-5
145 — 3. Robbie Elsea (12), 36-4
160 — 4. Nick Brickens (9), 14-10
182 — 2. Brian Wagner (11), 35-4
132 — 2. Sam Locke (11), 35-8
152 — 1. Josh Farrell (12), 40-0
160 — 3. Joe Hoskins (12), 25-10
170 — 1. Austin Rose (12), 30-7
Eastern Hancock (advancing out of Richmond Regional to New Castle Semistate)
138 — 4. Nathan Kell (11), 31-10
Date: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
Admission: $7 (Final session only); $10 (Season ticket).
Advancement: The top four place winners in each weight class advance to the state finals.
1. Merrillville | 8:30 am CT
Feeder Regionals: Calumet, Crown Point, Logansport, Rochester.
2. Fort Wayne Snider (at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum) | 9 am ET
Feeder Regionals: Carroll (Fort Wayne), Goshen, Jay County, Peru.
3. New Castle | 9 am ET
Feeder Regionals: North Montgomery, Pendleton Heights, Perry Meridian, Richmond.
4. Evansville Reitz (at Ford Center) | 9 am CT
Feeder Regionals: Bloomington South, Castle, Jeffersonville, Mooresville.
Site: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 125 S. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis
Admission: $8 per session or $20 both days.
Friday, Feb. 15, 2013
First Round | 6 pm ET.
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013
Quarterfinals | 9:30 am ET with semifinals to follow.
Consolations | 5 pm ET.
Finals | 7:30 pm ET.