NEW CASTLE — Katrell Moss owned Brian Wagner. Undefeated against the New Palestine senior the last four years, Moss was again leading Wagner in what was potentially the final head-to-head wrestling match of their careers in the New Castle Semistate on Saturday.
“It was frustrating,” Wagner said of his 0-5 record against Moss — a Warren Central 195-pounder — prior to Saturday. “I guess after each match I was looking to close the gap and practicing hard every week so that when the time came, I could win.”
Wagner’s triumphant moment came Saturday in one of the last title matches of a long day of wrestling at New Castle. Wagner and Moss each won their first three matches to secure berths in the State Finals; the top four semistate finishers advanced.
All that remained for the duo was to decide the 195 semistate crown and, late in the title match, Moss was on the verge of beating Wagner for a third straight week. The Warriors’ standout defeated Wagner 6-4 for the regional title Feb. 8 at Perry Meridian and 3-1 in the sectional championship Feb. 1 at Shelbyville.
Moss led Wagner throughout most of their three-round, six-minute match at New Castle, and was up 4-3 as the clock in the final round ticked under the 30-second mark.
In the ultimate showcase of perseverance and determination, Wagner scored a takedown on Moss for a 5-4 lead and held on for a rewarding victory.
“After I got that takedown with 20 seconds left, it was clear that I just had to keep him down for the remaining time,” Wagner said of the match’s final moments.
Moss, ranked No. 4 in the state, fell to 27-2 on the year, while No. 7 Wagner improved to 38-4.
“His strength and speed is very impressive,” Wagner said of his nemesis. “He would get me every time. Winning this time was very exciting, especially at this critical point in the season.”
As one of four semistate champs in the 16-man State Finals bracket at 195, Wagner will face a fourth-place semistate finisher in the first round of the State Finals Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Only the winners from Friday will advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals, consolations and finals.
Wagner is one of five Hancock County wrestlers who punched their State Finals tickets at New Castle: