By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY —
Billy Heller is a true believer in having a strong work ethic.
When the Christian Academy wrestling coach wrestled in high school in northern Wisconsin, he worked his way up from a lackluster freshman season to becoming the best grappler on his team as a senior.
Heller — a Louisville Metro police officer — has competed in powerlifting for several years and his hard work in the weight room recently paid off. This past August, Heller earned two silver medals in powerlifting at the World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Heller hopes he can instill his work ethic into all six wrestlers on the Warriors’ wrestling team this season.
“Skill and work ethic — those are two things we need to work on,” Heller said. “A lot of the newer guys have got to develop a work ethic. They can’t give up.”
Heller is in his first full year as the CAI head coach. After starting the 2012-13 season as an assistant coach, he took over the program near the midway point of the campaign after former coach Brett O’Loughlin stepped down as the Warriors’ boss. Heller’s two assistants for the 2013-14 campaign are Cory Ryan and former CAI wrestler Levi Speth.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Heller said about coaching at the high school level.
Daniel Doty is the only senior and four-year wrestler for CAI this season. Doty, who will compete at the 132-pound weight class, will try to get back to regional this season after not making the trip last year. He finished fifth at 126 pounds at last season’s Jeffersonville Sectional, one spot shy of making the regional.
In his freshman season, Doty advanced to semistate at 103 pounds after finishing third in the sectional and fourth in the regional. As a sophomore, he reached regional in the 113-pound division after placing fourth at sectional. Doty lost in the first round of the regional that year.
“Daniel is doing well. He seems to be motivated to do well as a senior and a team captain,” Heller said.
The other five Warriors have limited experience on the mats. Sophomores Kyle Ferguson (126) and Kevin Morris (138) are back for their second seasons. CAI has three newcomers in junior Phillip Lezco (145) and freshmen Jack Drake (120) and Logan Cavanaugh (152).
“The rest of them are new at it,” Heller said. “They are learning the fundamentals. Phillip is very athletic. They are a great group of guys. They are a bunch of nice well-mannered kids.”
Heller says not only does he want to develop his kids into sound wrestlers, but into mature young men.
“I want to make them better men,” Heller said. “I want to work with them on the mental and spiritual levels. I want to see them become hard-working guys.”
Heller says the toughest regular-season meet for the Warriors this season will be the Jeff Classic later this month. They also will compete in the Southern Indiana Wrestling Conference meet in January.
Along with concentrating on this season, Heller is focused on the program’s future and trying to increase its numbers.
“I think our next step is to start up our middle school team and then work toward an elementary team,” Heller said. “We need to work on our feeder system. I have high hopes for that.”
NEWS AND NOTES
• Red Devils finish sixth: On Nov. 16, Jeffersonville began the season with a sixth-place finish in the ultra-competitive Capitol City Classic in Indianapolis. The meet featured three-time defending state champion Perry Meridian, which won the meet.
Senior Gavan Jolley-Little was the only Red Devil to win a division, as he went 3-0 in the 285-pound weight class.
Jeff junior Chase Thompson finished second in the meet at 195 pounds, posting a 2-1 record. Earning fourth-place finishes for the Devils were Stevie Jones (2-2 at 113), Freddie Hudson (2-2 at 145) and Geary Gaines (2-2 at 220).
Jeff’s fifth-place finishers were Taivon Lucas (2-2 at 120), Jo Jo Deleon (2-2 at 132) and Eddie Kaster (2-2 at 160). Placing sixth for the Red Devils were Noah Morrison (1-3 at 106), David Pulliam (1-3 at 126), Devyn Long (1-3 at 170) and Kevin Cain (1-3 at 182). Jeff junior Josh Sauder was seventh at 138 with a 1-3 record.
• New Wash’s Franklin named Most Valuable Wrestler at Boonville Invitational: New Washington senior Jacob Franklin earned most valuable wrestler honors at the Boonville Invitational on Nov. 23. It was the Mustangs’ season opener.
Franklin was one of four New Washington wrestlers to register 5-0 records during the meet. The other three were freshman Noah Franklin (Jacob’s brother), junior Matthew Mosley and senior Dalton Bingham.
The Mustangs won four of their five dual meets at the invitational.