TAKING CONTROL: Mt. Vernon tops Shelbyville, sets sights on county foes

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MT. VERNON — Intense pain shot up his ankle instantly the moment it happened, he said.

Max Hayes, a 152-pound wrestler, was dominating his opponent in their bout during Wednesday’s dual meet against the Shelbyville Golden Bears. He had built up a healthy lead after landing several swift takedowns and a few escapes. But in the final minute of the third period, Hayes went for a suplex after his opponent managed to rise to his feet, and he slammed the full weight of his body on his ankle, which is still recovering from an injury, he said.

The ref called a stop to the match as Hayes rolled onto his back with a grimace on his face, clutching onto his ankle. Thirty seconds remained in the match. Nothing was broken, but it was sprained pretty bad. After a few minutes of contemplating, Hayes finally locked eyes with his coach. He held contact for just a few moments before giving him a nod and limping back to the center of the mat.

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Mt. Vernon would go on to finish the night as 58-12 winners against Shelbyville. The Golden Bears came out as a strong and athletic competitor, Marauders head coach Chad Masters said. Yet Mt. Vernon controlled the pace of the entire dual meet, a testament to the Marauders’ ability relative to the rest of the conference.

If Hayes’ determination is any indicator, Masters said the Marauders are a force to be reckoned with this season.

After returning to the center in a neutral position, Hayes went to grapple against his Shelbyville opponent to ride out the rest of the match. Well ahead on points, Hayes didn’t need to score; he just needed to prevent being pinned. Nonetheless, Hayes managed to get the drop on him, even managing to score a few extra near-fall points before the final buzzer sounded.

“I remember thinking to just bite past it,” Hayes said. “I just wanted to go out and win that bonus point for my team.”

Hayes’ grit in the face of adversity is something they’ve been driving into the students’ brains day in and day out at practice, Masters said. Most of his wrestlers are weight training before or after practice, and they’re continuing to push them as hard as they can humanly push them.

After a series of decision wins at the lower weight classes, Mt. Vernon took the lead against Shelbyville early. They led the Golden bears 11-0 before the 138-pound bout, where Shelbyville’s Jordan Vinson defeated Mt. Vernon’s No. 7-ranked Chris Wilkerson in a tightly-contested match, nudging ahead to the lead with a sit-out switch for a reversal, winning him the match and giving the Golden Bears a win.

Mt. Vernon continued to make their way through the ranks, stacking up points until the end of the meet. The Marauders came out on top throughout most of the middle and heavy weight classes, scoring some impressive pins in the process — including a quick first-period win by team leader PJ Sterrett at 182 pounds.

But the team suffered a handful of losses that they shouldn’t have, Masters said. Even the best team makes some mistakes.

“We’re still a little bit of a work in process,” Masters said. “Just some stupid mistakes, but we’re young.”

New Palestine and Greenfield-Central had better watch out at their triple-dual this Saturday, Masters said. If they can win those two matches, they’ll set their sights on defeating Pendleton Heights next week.

“Roncalli might have taken us, but they’re good,” Masters said. “My feeling is that it’s probably going to take a top-10 team to beat us right now.”