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November 20, 2012

H.S. WRESTLING: Season Preview — Veteran Highlanders have high hopes this season

Floyd Central seeks first HHC, sectional and regional titles since ‘07-08

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — It has been a few years since the Floyd Central wrestling team has had a season full of achievements.

The 2007-08 campaign was the last time the Highlanders won the Hoosier Hills Conference meet, a sectional championship and a regional crown.

With 11 regional qualifiers and eight semi-state qualifiers returning this season, the Highlanders have an excellent chance to get those championship trophies back in 2012-13.

But Floyd Central coach Brandon Sisson has stressed to his wrestlers that they must be completely dedicated if they are to win the HHC and the Jeffersonville Sectional.

“Obviously, we should have some success,” Sisson said. “But I told the guys that we are going to have to work hard in the [wrestling] room and dedicate themselves, and let the rest take care of itself. We can have some guys go to [the IHSAA State Finals] if they stay focused.”

Mental toughness is a subject the Highlanders talk about constantly in practice, and they will need to be mentally sharp if they are going to bring home some hardware this season.

“We talk about the mental game as much as the physical game,” Sisson said. “We talk about mental battles all the time. You have to face mental battles every day. We talk about when times get hard, then how do you react?”

Leading the Highlanders this season are three wrestlers who each won sectional and regional titles last season in seniors Terrence Kennedy (113 pounds), Tre Marler (132) and Jackson Randall (182). Seniors Chris Whitley (120), George Emily (145) and Nick Ottersbach (220) and junior Cory Troutman (138) each return to the Highlander fray after winning sectional crowns last year.

Also back for Floyd Central this season are seniors Kolton Popp (132), John Meldrum (152) and Ian Bagwell (170) and junior Chase Herron (160).

Popp was a semi-state qualifier a year ago, while Meldrum and Bagwell both advanced to regional. Herron suffered a torn ACL in practice two days before the sectional last season, ending his postseason hopes.

Sisson expects junior newcomer Austin Ward (126) to make big contributions this year.

“This team obviously has some talent,” Sisson said. “But we need to stay focused and work hard in the room. Some of the kids have higher goals than [just winning sectional], and obviously they need to work hard to achieve those.”

Sisson thinks his returning starters will be tested in practice each day because the talent pool within his program is very deep right now.

“We’re going to have some good matches in the room. Those starters know they have to be on their games,” Sisson said.

The Highlanders will compete in several formidable tournaments in preparing for the postseason. Those tournaments include the HHC Duals, the Calumet Duals, the Floyd Central Invitational and the Evansville Mater Dei Classic.

Sisson expects Jeff, Jennings County and New Albany to be the Highlanders’ toughest competition in the HHC meet this season.

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