Wrestling is essentially an individual sport — one wrestler against another.
But Franklin Community High School demonstrated how much of a team sport wrestling can be as the Grizzly Cubs came home from Indianapolis with two state champions, the mental attitude award winner and second place in the team competition at the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals.
D.J. Smith won the crown in the 113-pound weight class with a 5-3 decision over a wrestler from East Noble.
Jacob Stevenson earned the title in the 170-pound class with a 7-3 decision over a competitor from Penn.
In addition, Skyler Lykins was named recipient of Ward E. Brown Mental Attitude Award. The 4.0 GPA student and three-time state finalist placed sixth at 138 pounds.
Coach Bob Hasseman was ecstatic at the end of the night. “How about that. What a night. Both (championship) matches were nail-biters that came right down to the end. My team’s had a great run this year. It’s been almost to the point where it’s surreal, and I really think it’s a tribute to the kids.
“I try to stress that team thing, and if you don’t work hard, somebody’s going, ‘You’re not working hard.’ Sometimes some guys will quit, and that’s just the way it is. It’s a hard thing to maintain.”
That team spirit and internal competition and desire to work hard are the keys to Franklin’s success as a team and to the individual success of the wrestlers. Each champion is personally driven to be the best that he can be, but the support and continual challenge from his teammates plays a considerable part in individual and team success.
After his match, Smith said, “It’s definitely the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life. Nothing in my life has come close to living up to this. This is a moment I’ll never forget. It feels so awesome to be able to do it for our school.”
He added, “It’s been one heck of a journey. Each and every day we went into that room and worked as hard as we could. Ran as hard as we could. We would stay in that room until 6:30. It sucked doing that for four years, but it was worth it.
“I’m blessed to be part of this program. I have no regrets.”
Notice how he talks about “we” and “the program.” He does not consider himself a lone warrior.
We congratulate the state champions and all the Johnson County competitors who made it to the state finals. Their accomplishments are significant and hard-earned.
But we especially commend the hard work, dedication and support from their teammates that made the titles possible.