One of the oldest bits of conventional wisdom in sports is that it’s possible for a team to actually benefit from a loss.
Indian Creek wrestler Elijah Dunn is proof the adage can apply to individuals, too.
After advancing all the way to the Evansville Reitz Semistate at 145 pounds as a sophomore, Dunn is determined to stretch the 2014-15 season even further.
Dunn is 10 months separated from a 4-2 loss to Evansville Mater Dei senior Josh Pierre in the opening round of last year’s semistate. Yet he recalls the disappointment he felt that February morning at the Ford Center with clarity.
“I wasn’t too happy with the way I finished, losing by two points to the top seed,” Dunn said. “I really wanted to go to state. My goal this year is to win it all.”
But in which weight class?
Dunn is contemplating a jump to 152 pounds, insisting the final decision will be greatly influenced by how he performs at the Dec. 20 Johnson County Meet at Indian Creek.
“If I win county at 152, I’ll probably stay there,” he said. “If I lose, I’ll go to 145.”
Either is fine with third-year Braves’ coach Pat Dowty, who allows his athletes to place themselves where they’re most comfortable.
“Right now, Elijah is feeling real good at 152, but he wants to see where he stands against good competition,” Dowty said. “I give the kids until after the Connersville Tournament (Jan. 2 to 3) to make their choice, and then I want them to stick with it.”
Dunn started his varsity career wrestling 145, but took it to a new level last season by placing second and fourth at sectional and regional, respectively, at Mooresville.
Now he’s raising the bar again. Possibly in terms of weight; most definitely in self-expectation.
“Elijah has 10 times more confidence this year. He’s twice as strong, twice as quick and even a little taller,” Dowty said. “In the past he wasn’t always a hard worker, but he’s flipped a switch.
“It’s with that work ethic. He has that much more stamina and confidence.”
A seasoned junior on a senior-less roster of 13 wrestlers, Dunn is being counted on by his coach to be one of the Braves’ leaders.
Dunn plans to do just that regardless of which weight division he’s representing.
“I’m faster. I’m stronger. I’m more driven,” Dunn said. “I just feel I’m three times better than I was last year.”
THE DUNN FILE
Name: Elijah Dunn
Family: Parents, Brent and Cindy; sisters, Ajene, 21, Anna Mae, 9, and Ava, 7; brothers, Anthony, 14, Alex, 13, and Geno, 11
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter”
Favorite food: Pasta salad
Favorite movie: “A Call of Duty”
Favorite athlete: Jordan Burroughs
Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks