The state high school wresting meet’s fourth-place ribbon might as well serve as a bull’s eye on Indian Creek senior Elijah Dunn’s back.

“Last season, he was under the radar because he hadn’t gone to a state meet,” Indian Creek coach Pat Dowty said. “He had gotten upset at the semistate his sophomore year. Now, everyone knows who he is, and they are all gunning for him.

“He’s going to have a tougher season this year, but it’s going to prepare him for the state meet.”

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Dunn, who was 44-4, finished fourth at 152 pounds.

“I think I’m going to be more determined this year for the state finals because I lost last year,” said Dunn, who is 10-0 this season. “It being my senior year, I’m going to leave everything on the mat.

“I’m just going to work hard to achieve my goal of first place.”

Dowty said it should be within Dunn’s grasp.

“He’s got a shot, but we’ve got work to do,” Dowty said.

Dowty said Dunn should be encouraged after having a strong offseason.

Dunn was the Greco-Roman state champion in the 152-pound junior division of the Indiana State Wresting Association finals this summer. He placed second in the ISWA folkstyle and freestyle state finals.

Folkstyle, which is Dunn’s favorite, is the form of wrestling that high school and college teams use. Freestyle and Greco-Roman are Olympic forms.

“Elijah had something like 16 runner-ups in the (IWSA) state (over the years) so that was the first time he won a state title so it was a confidence booster for him,” Dowty said. “He’s better on the mat and he’s better on his feet as well.

“He’s just all-around a lot better.”

Dunn said he had to get over a mental hump of winning in a championship match.

“It was a confidence booster to know that be the best,” Dunn said.

Dunn, who started wrestling when he was 5 years old, is ranked second at 152 pounds in the Indiana Mat rankings. Portage senior Steven Lawrence, who was second at 138 pounds in the state high school meet last season, is ranked No. 1.

“I’ve got great practice partners,” Dunn said. “I usually wrestle with the 138- and 145-pounders. I also work out with Ethan Raley, a state champion from Indian Creek (2008, 2011) and with Pat (Dowty).”

The schedule should help him prepare as well.

“The schedule is tougher than last year,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of tough matches already.”

Dunn, who hopes to compete in college, will see what kind of interest he draw as the season goes on.

“I’m just going to wait until close to the end of wrestling season,” Dunn said.

The 6-foot Dunn, a running back/defensive back, was the leading rusher for the Braves’ (7-4) football team with 722 yards on 124 carries, including 12 touchdowns. He also had 21 catches for 186 yards.

However, wrestling is his clear No. 1 choice between the two sports. Dunn likes determining his own fate on the mat.

“I like it being an individual sport,” Dunn said.

The Dunn File

Name: Elijah Dunn

High school: Indian Creek

Class: Junior

Favorite class: Environmental science.

Favorite way to relax: “Play a little music or Xbox. I like hanging out with friends and play video games.”

Favorite video game: Call of Duty games.

Favorite sport to watch: NFL.

Favorite team: Carolina Panthers.

Favorite type of music: “I don’t have a favorite, it’s whatever I’m in the mood to listen to.”

Pre-match ritual: “I usually listen to hard rock to get pumped up. I like Slipknot.”

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.