Whiteland only brought two wrestlers to the Evansville Reitz Semistate on Saturday, but seniors Ryan Hammond and Garrett Curtis did not disappoint.
Curtis started the postseason as a fourth seed in his sectional and had to go through some tough draws to make it to semistate for the first time. Now, he will be one of four top seeds at 285 pounds in the state competition at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“I think it just shows that anybody can do it,” Curtis said. “Once it comes tournament time, I think everyone is on a pretty equal playing field. You just have to go out and show what you can do and make big things happen.”
Hammond qualified for state as a freshman, but injuries have plagued his career since then. He sat out his sophomore season because of a torn ACL and dislocated his kneecap with a round to go in last year’s semistate.
Undefeated as a senior, Hammond has battled through all that adversity to get back to his final semistate and earn his first title at 220 pounds.
“We’ve worked all week for it and just been preparing all season, just working hard in the (wrestling) room this offseason,” Hammond said. “I went through a couple injuries earlier in the year and just kind of took some time off. I got everything fixed and just went out there.”
Indian Creek’s lone qualifier, Grant Goforth, also will be rewarded with a top seed at state after winning the semistate championship at 195. This is the senior’s second time qualifying for state, and he understands that his job is still not finished.
“It’s a good seed. That’s all it really is,” Goforth said of winning the semistate. “You just have to show up on Friday and Saturday. That’s all it’s about, really, not right now.”
Center Grove will have three wrestlers competing at state after Gleason Mappes placed second at 160, and Alex Petro (113) and Shane Stits (195) both placed fourth. Mappes gave Nick South of Columbus East his only loss of the year earlier this season, but lost to South 3-2 in the semistate final for his first loss this season.
Petro was pinned by Tyler Conley of Avon in his third-place match, and Stits lost by a 14-4 major decision to Luke Smith of Jeffersonville in his consolation round.
“We had a good start to the day. I’m not real thrilled how we (finished) it,” Center Grove coach Cale Hoover said. “We’re glad to get three. We were hoping to get two more … It’s been a kind of up-and-down day.”
Freshman Tyler Fuqua of Franklin also felt like he could have wrestled a little better at 120, and he’ll get a chance to do that at state. Fuqua’s fourth-place finished helped extend his first high school season for one more weekend.
“It definitely is pretty awesome as a freshman to go, but I definitely do need to get better,” Fuqua said. “Some of the positives are, I’ve already punched my ticket to state, but some of the negatives are, I just need to get better on my feet.”