CJ Red credited with improving lower weight classes

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SHELBYVILLE — A rising tide lifts all ships, and Chad (CJ) Red has an ocean full of wrestling talent.

Red, the New Palestine sophomore and defending state champion, continued his pursuit of a second straight undefeated season with a sectional title Saturday at Shelbyville.

Not by coincidence, Red, at 120 pounds, was joined in top shelf podium finishes by teammates Eugene Starks (113), Rylan McCarty (126) and Nick Brickens (160). The Dragons’ Alec White finished third at 106.

“We’re good at the lower weights because of CJ,” said McCarty, a senior and two-time sectional champ. “He’s our man, he’s our leader. I’ve been better on top (position) because of facing him in the (wrestling) room. He’s very quick on bottom.”

Battling Red has proved to be beneficial for McCarty, Starks and White, who have all faced the career 81-0 grappler on the practice mats. Starks — JV at 106 behind Red last season — was Red’s most frequent practice matchup until Red recently took on the challenge of facing Brickens, even though Brickens has 40 pounds on the standout.

“In practice we go at it,” Red said of his entire group of partners. “I try to teach them stuff and help them out. At the same time, they teach me stuff and they help me out. We just go hard in practice everyday.

“With Nick … I wanted to step it up a little and get used to heavier guys, for the state finals.”

The Dragons’ second-place team finish behind Warren Central was a complete effort. Eleven of the New Palestine 14-man lineup advanced to the Perry Meridian Regional, including second-place finishers Brian Wagner (195) and Andrew Yazel (285).

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