For various reasons, the Center Grove wrestling team has not been at full strength.
Nor has it been able to get in sync while training.
But no matter.
From coach Cale Hoover’s perspective, one team — and one team only — is the favorite heading into today Johnson County Meet at Indian Creek High School.
That would be the defending champion Trojans, who for the first time all season expect to field their top wrestlers.
“We basically have everybody back, so we expect that to be ours, quite honestly,” Hoover said. “That’s the mindset we have going into it.”
Hoover’s optimism stems from the fact the Trojans, despite being shorthanded in recent weeks, have satisfactorily weathered the storm. They are 4-1 in dual meets. Their only loss happened Tuesday against fourth-ranked Perry Meridian.
Moreover, the Trojans return a host of their top wrestlers from last year’s team, including four defending county champions: Seniors Zak Siddiqui (120 pounds), Nick Summers (152) and sophomores Jonah Hays (170) and Cory Heinrichs (220).
Yet despite the wealth of veterans, the Trojans have not hit full competitive stride. At least not yet.
Because of the football team’s long postseason run (the Trojans won the Class 6A state championship Nov. 28), the first match was postponed as the wrestling team awaited the arrival of several football players.
The delay was not ideal for practice, and it was a bit of a setback in the beginning.
Yet the Trojans still started 4-0 in dual meets, despite also missing a number of starters to various injuries and illnesses.
“We’re trying to settle into that (practice) routine a bit,” Hoover said. “That hasn’t quite happened, but I think we’re getting there.”
That’s because the Trojans, for first time all season, finally have all their starters in place. Or at least, they expect to.
And if they do, they expect to successfully defend their title in a field that includes traditional state power Franklin and resurgent Indian Creek.
Whiteland and Greenwood also feature a number of wrestlers who will likely contend for individual titles.
But the Trojans like their chances of winning the team championship and claiming several individual crowns along the way.
“We’re feeling pretty good about our chances,” Hoover said. “We have yet to put our full lineup out there. We’re hoping that can happen (today). If we can get the guys in that should be in, we’re pretty solid top to bottom. We’ll see.
“That’s what makes it fun.”
What: Johnson County Wrestling Meet
When: Today. Round 1 begins at 9 a.m., with rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5 to follow.
Where: Indian Creek High School
Rounds: Round 1, Indian Creek vs. Franklin; Greenwood vs. Whiteland. Round 2, Indian Creek vs. Greenwood; Center Grove vs. Whiteland. Round 3, Indian Creek vs. Center Grove; Greenwood vs. Franklin. Round 4, Greenwood vs. Center Grove; Franklin vs. Whiteland. Round 5, Whiteland vs. Indian Creek; Franklin vs. Center Grove
Admission: $5 season ticket