NEW PALESTINE — Experienced and talented beat youthful and talented in New Palestine’s season-opening boys wrestling match Wednesday at New Palestine High School.

Last year’s state runner-up Center Grove, boasting a lineup with seven of its 10 returning 2023 state-meet participants, defeated the Dragons 56-7.

“I wasn’t surprised on their product, they have a good product, a good team.” New Palestine head coach Andrew Frey said.

Frey is in his seventh season with the New Palestine program, first as its head coach.

”That’s why (Center Grove) is on our schedule and why we wrestle them first, so we can see what a team like that looks like,” Frey added. “From my eyes, we’re going to be a team like that in a short amount of time. We just need to feel the standard so we can set the standard.”

Nothing described experience versus youth better than the night’s opening match.

Starting at 120, Center Grove came out with Charlie LaRocca, a senior and last year’s state champion in the 113-pound class. New Palestine opened with freshman Wes Harbert.

LaRocca won by fall in 1:17. The first of three straight Trojan wins.

New Palestine’s first of two state-placers, Gunner Butt, sixth last year in the 106-class, wrestled at 126. He lost a hard-fought 5-2 battle to Center Grove’s Dominic Brown.

A third-place finisher at 120 last year, CG’s Eddie Goss beat New Palestine’s Cole Vandygriff 7-1 to give the Trojans a 12-0 lead.

The first of two New Palestine wins came from freshman 138-pounder Peyton Hornsby. He jumped out to a quick 8-3 first-period lead and went on to defeat Will Vander Luitgaren 15-6.

“Hornsby is a freshman, but don’t let the 9 next to his name fool you,” Frey said. “He’s a talented kid that has worked extremely hard for a long time. We have big expectations for him and he definitely backed it up tonight. He scores points and he loves wrestling. He showed it tonight, going out there scoring and having a good time.”

The night’s marquee matchup was at 144 with a pair of state-placers going head-to-head.

Center Grove senior Reese Courtney, the state runner-up at 138 last year, defeated New Palestine junior Bryce Doss, eighth at 120 last season.

Courtney led 2-0 heading into the third period and then pulled away for a 13-3 victory.

The Trojans won the next five matches, three from wrestlers that either placed or qualified for last year’s state finals.

At 150, Center Grove senior Wyatt Kresja, the state runner-up at 145 last year, pinned New Palestine’s Elijah Alonso in the second period. At 157, CG’s Silas Stits, a state qualifier at 152, won by a first-period fall over Jaedyn Jeffries.

In a rare match between two youngsters, at 165, Center Grove freshman Sean Breedlove defeated New Palestine sophomore Gabe Flick 8-4.

At 175, the Trojans’ Miguel Flores defeated Gavin Wilcher 5-1, and at 190, Noah Clouser, a state qualifier at 170, defeated New Palestine’s Brandon Brees with a first-period pin.

New Pal’s second win followed from one of its seniors, Shaun Glass.

At 215, he picked up an 8-2 decision over Ronnie Thompson.

“And our other win was a senior, the other side of the spectrum.” Frey said. “(The) same thing (as Hornsby), a happy dude that goes out and competes hard. (He’s) maybe a little out of shape, but his tenure in the sport showed in tonight’s match and he was able to get the win.”

New Palestine sent out freshmen in the final three matches at 285, 106 and 113. Two faced senior wrestlers.

At 285, Center Grove state qualifier Tyler Schott, a senior, pinned Dragon freshman Levi Oberle in the first period. In the other senior vs. freshman match, at 113, Jeremiah Argbah downed Dragon rookie Landon Stranger 18-7.

At 106, Justus Thrasher pinned New Pal’s Blake Doss in the opening period.

“Overall in our performance, I thought we were a little out of shape,” Frey said. “The guys will learn that (Thursday) at practice.

“(The wrestling is) really nothing that we can’t fix, just small positional things. I was pretty happy with our attitude and effort. The scoreboard doesn’t show it but we saw it in here tonight, so I’m happy with that.”

New Palestine holds a round-robin dual invitational Saturday. The Dragons will wrestle Triton Central, Eastern Hancock and Bishop Chatard before a boys-girls dual next Wednesday at Greenfield-Central.

“Our schedule really doesn’t get much easier the rest of the year,” Frey added. “It’s all in preparation for the state finals. We’re going to wrestle (Center Grove) again, hopefully at state, and maybe change some of those results a little bit.”