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Grizzly Cubs No. 1 in state wrestling poll

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Franklin coach Bob Hasseman doesn’t pay much attention to rankings.

But when the new state poll was released Thursday, the veteran wrestling coach was pleasantly surprised to see the Grizzly Cubs at the top. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been, but he was.

“I thought we might be fifth. It’s nice to get respect. It’s kind of hard to get,” said Hasseman, whose team clearly earned that respect at last week’s Team State Duals at Westfield.

Ranked No. 5 heading into the tournament, the Cubs exited with the Class 3A championship, vanquishing former No. 1 and defending IHSAA state champion Perry Meridian and No. 2 Evansville Mater Dei along the way.

Franklin came from behind in both matches and, in the aftermath, vaulted to No. 1 in the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Top 20 for the first time in team history.

Hasseman, in his 29th season at Franklin, is flattered by the attention but not dazzled by it. The season is not over, and three major tournaments — Saturday’s Super Six at Franklin, the Jan. 18 Mid-State Conference and the Jan. 25 Mt. Vernon Triple Dual — still lay ahead.

“Obviously, we had a great effort at the Team State Duals,” Hasseman said. “We still need to get better in some weight classes. The rest of the way, we’re focusing on improvement.

“We’re not going to sneak up on anybody.”

Still, Hasseman has few complaints about the Cubs, who are bidding for what would be their first IHSAA team state championship.

Powered by eight seniors and a wealth of talented underclassmen, the Cubs are 14-0 and are especially dangerous at the higher weight classes. Junior Jake Stevenson (170 pounds), senior Mike Petrole (182), senior Connor Tolley (220) and sophomore Quinn York (285) were among six Franklin wrestlers who were 3-0 at the Team State Duals. The others were seniors D.J. Smith at 113 and Skyler Lykins at 138.

“We don’t have any weak links, really,” Hasseman said. “We’re kind of on the right track. We still have some tough things coming down the road. It’s all about match-ups and overcoming odds.”

Besides overcoming odds, Hasseman hopes the No. 1 ranking doesn’t become an obstacle, either.

Combating complacency will be an objective moving forward.

“I don’t look at rankings too much or care. You’ve got to earn that every time you’re in a match,” Hasseman said. “Hopefully, we’ll handle it well.”

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