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Wrestling State Finals: Beeson, Dragons out-smart foes

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INDIANAPOLIS — Tyler Beeson hit the books all week, then hit the mat.

The Greenfield-Central senior put a heavy academic workload behind him long enough Friday evening to advance to the quarterfinals of the wrestling State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. 

Beeson, a heavyweight, improved to 39-2 on the year with a pin of LaPorte’s Landon Blackburn (40-5) in period two of their win-or-don’t-come-back first-round bout.

It marked the end of what Beeson termed a “stressful” five-day swing.

“This week I had trouble focusing on wrestling because my school schedule is just jam-packed,” said Beeson, who is taking five college courses. “So I haven’t had the best of weeks. But I got some good sleep last night and I think that helped a lot.”

Beeson’s recent classroom regimen included tests in AP Calculus and AP Chemistry and a few research papers.

Enjoying the first State Finals appearance of his career, he’ll face Norman Oglesby (41-1) of Ben Davis this morning in the quarterfinals. If Beeson keeps winning, he will be wrestling well into the evening — cutting into valuable study time.

No homework today for this guy.

“I’m just going to wrestle tomorrow,” Beeson said Friday with a smile. “I’ll explain it to my teachers Monday. Hopefully they understand.”

Beeson will be joined today by three New Palestine wrestlers:

>> At 106 pounds, Dragons freshman Alec White (35-7) defeated Mason Kaufer (27-7) of Corydon Central by technical fall, 19-3, in Friday’s first round. White will take on Warsaw freshman Kyle Hatch (34-7) this morning in the quarterfinal. Unranked Hatch topped Lakeland senior and 11th-ranked Lukas Long (38-2) by a 13-12 decision Friday. White is ranked No. 8.

>> At 120, returning 106 state champ Chad Red pinned Yorktown’s Brad Laughlin (34-10) in three minutes, 33 seconds. No. 1-ranked Red (41-0), a New Palestine sophomore, will battle Corydon’s Bailey Lahue (25-1) in the quarterfinal. No. 2 Lahue’s only loss this season was to No. 7 Brock Hudkins (41-2) of Danville, who was forced to forfeit his match Friday due to illness.

>> At 195, New Palestine senior Brian Wagner (39-4) stuck Peru’s Nick Cress (40-10) in 1:59. No. 7 Wagner advanced to face No. 3 Kobe Woods (40-3) of Penn. Woods defeated No. 5 Dakota Thacker Friday night, 7-4.

Four Dragons were in action at Bankers Life. At 126, NP senior Rylan McCarty lost to Fort Wayne Snider’s Erique Early, 12-5. No. 7 Early, who placed eighth in the State Finals last season at 120, improved to 27-0. No. 17 McCarty finished 37-7.

“When I first came in I rode Rylan awfully hard because he had that ability to be down here,” New Palestine second-year coach Chad Red said. “Very, very proud of Rylan. He set his goals high to be a state qualifier this year. He’s also looking next year to maybe University of Indianapolis or Wabash to continue wrestling, so I think we set something up for him to take it to the next level.

“Love the kid, great family support. For four years, a great leader, great academically. Zero problems. Those are the kinds of kids you want in your program.”

Following two Dragons victories by fall and another by technical fall in a dominant effort Friday, the Dragons will aim to keep keep breathing fire today.

The quarterfinals begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by the semifinals. Session III opens with consolations at 5 p.m. and the finals, or spotlight round, at 7:30 p.m.

“Hopefully we can just keep it going,” coach Red said. “Eighteen minutes left in the season (three matches at six minutes apiece). We have to make sure get a good night’s rest, wake up on the right side of the bed in the morning and come in here ready to go.

“I think we’ve got a good chance to wrestle well. We’ve had a good week of practice. These guys are ready for this and we’re excited for the opportunity.”

Team scoring will begin with today’s quarterfinal round. Perry Meridian is a three-time defending state champion. The Falcons brought eight wrestlers to Indy (out of 14 weight classes), tied with Evansville Mater Dei for second-most State Finals qualifiers. Penn topped the field with nine State Finals wrestlers.

In last year’s team standings, New Palestine and Fishers tied for seventh with 36 points. Perry Meridian (102.5) walloped runner-up Yorktown (62) for the team title.

Greenfield-Central finished 15th last season in the team standings on the strength of 152 champ Josh Farrell. Now at Purdue, Farrell graces the cover of this year’s State Finals program handed out to fans and media this weekend. Farrell beat Cathedral’s Vinny Corsaro, 3-2, for the title a year ago, and that remains Corsaro’s last loss. Now at 160, Corsaro improved to 46-0 this season with a first-round win Friday.

Notes: Hanover Central’s Stevan Micic stayed in contention for a third straight championship. The former 106 champ (in 2012) and 113 champ (last year) won his 126 opening round match Friday via forfeit. Micic is the only two-time champ in the field. ... Red, the New Palestine sophomore, is one of five wrestlers aiming for a second state title, all of whom remained alive with wins Friday. The other four: Deondre Wilson (132 now/120 last year), Tommy Forte (145/138) of Mishawaka, Perry Meridian’s Cody LeCount (145/132) and Lake Central’s Gelen Robinson (220/220). Forte and LeCount are on opposite sides of the 145 bracket and woudn’t meet until the championship, assuming they win their quarterfinal and semifinal bouts. ... New Palestine native and Cathedral junior Ben Harvey was also in the 145 bracket. Harvey (43-3) lost Friday on a late takedown to Zach Batts (45-3) of Cascade, who broke a 1-1 tie and took a 3-1 win. 

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