Center Grove’s elementary school wrestling program finished third in the state last year, suffering its only defeat of the season in the semifinals against Brownsburg.
That wasn’t good enough — so this year, the Trojans came back and won the whole thing.
Competing in the Indiana State Wrestling Association’s elementary state championships last Sunday at Franklin High School, Center Grove put forth a dominating performance, easily winning five straight dual matches to claim the title.
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The Trojans blanked Franklin Central, 88-0, then followed up with convincing victories against Warren Central (79-9), Southport (77-14) and Penn (63-15) before topping Avon by a 58-32 score in the final.
Though the team scores were all somewhat lopsided, coach Marty Mills noted that the championship match was actually fairly close throughout before Center Grove pulled away by securing pins in each of the five heaviest weight classes.
“It was a battle,” Mills said of the Avon match. “We’d go up, they’d catch us, we’d go up, they’d catch us, and once we hit the 105-pound weight class … we pinned all five of their opponents, and that made that score jump up.”
Seven individual wrestlers posted perfect 5-0 records on the day for the Trojans, led by Patrick Kendall, who pinned all five of his opponents at 150 pounds. Drew Mills had four pins — each coming in 24 seconds or less — at 130 pounds, and Bray Emerine also had four wins by fall at 115. Kanon Posey (40 pounds), Charlie LaRocca (70), Reese Courtney (75) and Kaden McConnell (105) also finished the tournament unbeaten.
Brody Green (45 pounds), Reese Breeden (65) and Hunter May (90) were each 4-1 with four pins, while heavyweight Tommy Claiborne also posted a 4-1 mark on the day.
The title was a crowning achievement for the Center Grove Wrestling Club, which routinely has between 100 and 150 children from kindergarten through sixth grade participating.
Marty Mills oversees the program, but is quick to give credit to the numerous other parents who help out, both as assistant coaches and with all of the other tasks that go into building a winning program.
“Little things add up to big things,” Mills said, “and none of it happens without a great group of parents.”
The championship team will be honored at Center Grove High School on Wednesday prior to the start of the 6 p.m. varsity match against Plainfield.
In a few years, many of these young wrestlers will be competing for the high school team — something that bodes well for the Trojans’ future at that level.
“They’ve got to get better,” Marty Mills said, “but they’re on the right track to be a powerhouse program.”