Two trips to the same gymnasium in a matter of eight days mean Shane Stits is doing something right.
The Center Grove wrestler, champion in the 195-pound weight class of the Mooresville Sectional, looks to keep his postseason going Saturday when he returns to Morgan County to compete in the regional.
Still unranked in his division despite a solid 28-10 record, the senior is one of seven Trojan wrestlers competing for an opportunity to qualify for the Evansville Reitz Semistate, scheduled for Feb. 10 at the spacious Ford Center.
“It’s a real cool experience going off to regional for the first time,” Stits said. “I really feel like I can qualify for state.”
A little more than a year has passed since Stits failed to crack the top six in the sectional at 182 pounds.
He made it a point to improve in the offseason, focusing on technique and his ability to attack.
“The area I’ve improved most on is my feet. Last year I started slow in a lot of matches,” Stits said. “I’d be down 5-0 or something like that and have to dig myself out of a hole.”
Stits didn’t have that problem as often during this year’s sectional, but he showed that he possesses the ability to rally when needed, bouncing back from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Monrovia junior Clay Whitney in the first-place match.
The competition becomes more difficult this Saturday, as qualifiers from the Avon Sectional feed into the regional. At 195 pounds, this includes Chase Spears of Plainfield, Dakan Kenny of Pike and Brownsburg’s Andrew Glaze.
Center Grove coach Cale Hoover has learned not to underestimate Stits, who won at the sectional after taking the mat as the No. 3 seed. Prior to that, Stits placed fourth at the Evansville Memorial tournament and second at the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference meet at Warren Central.
“Shane had a pretty good season as a junior, and 182 was a really good weight class,” Hoover said. “He’s a great, great team guy; one of my all-time favorite wrestlers because he competes, is so unselfish and is very coachable. He just checks all the boxes.
“We always take it a week at a time, but Shane is good enough to win regional. And if he’s good enough to win that, he’s very capable of making state.”
IHSAA wrestling regionals
Where: Mooresville (Center Grove, Franklin, Greenwood, Whiteland), Bloomington South (Indian Creek), Perry Meridian (Roncalli)
When: Saturday; start time is 9 a.m. at Perry Meridian and 9:30 at Mooresville and Bloomington South
Tickets: $7 at each site
Advancement: The top four wrestlers in each weight class at each sectional move on to the Feb. 10 semistates.