Hendricks County schools sent 20 grapplers to the Evansville Reitz semi-state over the weekend and eight continued their journey to the state finals.
Avon led the way to semi-state with eight wrestlers and was able to advance four grapplers to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this Friday, though Orioles coach Israel Blevins would have liked to have had more make the trip.
“We expected more to get through, but four is still a good number, we just lost a couple we thought we could win,” Blevins said.
Avon’s Quinn Harris (126 pounds), Evan Elmore (182), Gunnar Larson (220) and Guy Henson (285) all advanced.
Harris fell to Evansville Mater Dei’s Nick Lee (33-0) in the finals and secured a No. 2-seed heading into the state finals.
“Quinn wrestled well and going into it I thought he’d have a chance to make the finals the way the draw fell out,” Blevins said. “He did a great job taking advantage of what was put in front of him and wrestled hard to get to where he got.”
Henson (285) took on Ben Davis’ Norman Oglesby for the third straight week in the finals as the pair had split the sectional and regional championships. Oglesby took a 2-1 postseason advantage and 3-1 overall record with a regular season victory over Henson in finals.
Larson, the first Avon freshman in history to advance to the state finals, finished third.
“Gunnar’s done a great job this year and I thought coming into the year he could do well,” Blevins said. “He wrestles smart matches, doesn’t get out of position and it continues to work out for him.”
Elmore improved on his semi-state position last season, taking third, and is the only Oriole from last year returning to the state finals.
Danville was the only county school to come away with a champion.
Danville’s Brock Hudkins (120) and Elliott Molloy (126) both will make the journey downtown this week. Hudkins, who also won a semi-state title last season, sits in an envious No. 1 seed headed into Friday’s one-and-done first round.
“It feels amazing to come out as a first seed instead of a second, I’m ready for state now,” Hudkins said. “I don’t feel as nervous as I did last year and I feel like having already being there is really going to help.”
Molloy was pinned in his semifinal round but rebounded in the finals to take a third-place finish.
Brownsburg’s C.J. Damler was the lone Bulldog to make it to the finals, taking on undefeated Evansville Central grappler Brendon Kelley (49-0). Damler put up a good effort, but had to settle for second.
“I can’t even explain how excited and surreal it was for me,” Damler said. “I didn’t think I’d get quite that far. I thought I’d place, but not get second.”
Cascade’s Zach Batts (145), who placed third and finally punched his ticket to get to the state finals as a senior, rounds out the list of county grapplers advancing.
Wrestlers must win their first match on Friday in a one-and-done scenario, that includes 16 grapplers from each weight class, to have a chance to stand on the podium for a state medal and become one of the top eight wrestlers in the state.
“The margin for error is less at this stage,” Blevins said. “You have evenly matched kids and a lot of time it comes down to who’s prepared physically and mentally.”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.