There’s only 36 schools in Indiana with a lower enrollment than New Washington’s 200 students, meaning the sophomore duo Austin Taylor and Jason Profitt are representing the smallest school in the Evansville Semistate on Saturday.
Taylor and Profitt are definitely representing the smallest wrestling team at any semistate. Coach Jeremy Campbell has just four wrestlers on his team.
“We’re just the little bitty school. The kids do the deal. They work really hard,” Campbell said. “They know that they’ll be the smallest school. They’re trying to show what small schools can do.”
Taylor takes a 34-6 record into his match at 160 pounds against Clay Singleton (35-5) of Gibson Southern.
Jason Profitt takes a 36-4 mark into his match against Gabe Recknor (29-8) of Terre Haute South. It takes two wins to punch a ticket to the state finals.
“If you want to go to state, you have to beat somebody good. We’re the smallest school there. We look at that as our advantage. We have nothing to lose. That puts us in a good mental position,” Campbell said.
Both Mustangs made big improvements from their freshman to sophomore seasons. Taylor was knocked out in the first round of the regional and Profitt didn’t advance out of the sectional.
“They’ve both worked really hard,” Campbell said, adding that the size of the team means you have plenty of time to build a strong connection with one another. “They have fun. We keep practices light. Talk a lot about life and what the expectations are. I ask them what level they want to be capable of.”
Practices can also become complicated. Usually wrestlers have sparring partners that are nearly exactly a match in size.If one of the four goes down with an injury or illness, practicing becomes challenging.
“Any time you have injury or illness or grades, there’s so many things that can go against you. With four kids, you lose one with an injury, now you’re down to three,” Campbell said. “Everyone has to be aware of how they’re landing. If Austin starts working on Jason and breaks him, that’s not good for them.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the largest school in Floyd and Clark counties — Jeffersonville — has nine wrestlers headed to semistate.
“We have five seniors going to semi-state, its fantastic to see them peaking at this point in they year,” coach Danny Struck said. “Two of them are first-year varsity so we are awful proud they stuck it out to their senior year and are feeling this success. We hope for one more week with them. This is the most underclassman we have had in years going to semistate. It will be great having four guys with this experience next year, we hope to have some underclassman state qualifiers as well to set up next year’s team. We always wanna focus on our next match, while building the future simultaneously.”
Floyd Central has five wrestlers in the mix as well, led by 2018 state qualifier Gavinn Alstott. Charlestown sends two more and New Albany and Providence one.
Find a glance at those 20 wrestlers below:
Collin Knox, 120
Opponent: Aiden Reynolds (25-13), Bloomington South
Sean Baker, 285
Opponent: Allen Haire (33-2), Terre Haute South
Lou Knable, 106
Opponent: Logan Miller (28-8), Brownsburg
Coach’s comment: “Lou had an amazing first round at regionals, beating a kid that had beat him at the beginning of the season. Qualifying for semistate is a big deal.” — Brandon Sisson
Gavinn Alstott, 113
Opponent: Brandon Leslie (22-12), Brown County
Coach’s comment: “Gavinn had a great weekend last weekend. He qualified for state last year. His experience from last year will be a huge asset for him this weekend.” — Brandon Sisson
J Conway, 126
Opponent: Albert Spencer (30-9), North Posey
Coach’s comment: “J missed some time at the beginning of the year, but he is starting to hit his stride. He has literally wrestled better every weekend since returning and I expect the same for semistate.” — Brandon Sisson
Elijah Combs, 132
Opponent: Bryce Denton (26-8), Brown County
Coach’s comment: “It is nice to see Elijah break through and quality for semistate his senior year. He has an opponent in the first round we are familiar with.” — Brandon Sisson
Jonathan Kervin, 145
Opponent: Owen Bryant (29-7), Gibson Southern
Coach’s comment: “Jonathan is our most experienced guy going into semistate. This is his third trip and knows what to expect. He has been wrestling really good with a lot of confidence. It is going to be fun to watch him compete.”
Adonis Boyd, 120
Opponent: Tanner Kane (24-9), Southridge
Coach’s comment: “Adonis has really taken some jumps this season. He works every morning at 6 a.m. with Isaac, Trent, Carlos and Coach Shepherd. This is why he has taken leaps to sectional, regional and conference champ.” — Danny Struck
Conner Gilles, 126
Opponnent: Ian Giesler 28-5
Coach’s comment: “It’s great for the younger guys to have goals and see sophomores can be at semistate. They will really look up to Conner and Matt Munoz (285) as something they might do next season.” — Danny Struck
Carlos Santos, 138
Opponent: Sean Moore (28-11), Castle
Coach’s comment: “Carlos, along with Trent [Brown] has put in more time than most anyone on our team. He and Trent have the toughest semi-state routes. But they have been to semistate before and have that experience under their belts.” — Danny Struck
Trent Brown, 145
Opponent: Brach Carrington (19-5), Greencastle
Coach’s comment: “Trent beat a few state runners-up this summer at camps and tourneys. He has been at this level, but it is a huge test this week. We believe in him.” — Danny Struck
Isaac Hall, 152
Opponent: Devin Scott (24-15), Mooresville
Coach’s comment: “He has been to semistate before. He is a quarterback; he is used to pressure. He is really confident going into this meet. He likely will have Bloomington South [senior wrestler Ellisston Ross] in the round to go, who beat him last time 6-3. But wow, his confidence has been through the roof, and he is peaking his abilities at the right time.” — Danny Struck
Tyler Hughes, 170
Opponent: Brendan McPike (29-8), Terre Haute South
Coach’s comment: “In his first year of varsity for us, he has been a great point scorer. Hoping for a good day from him.” — Danny Struck
Cody Matherly, 182
Opponent: Will Nix (33-4), Martinsville
Coach’s comment: “The team sees this junior as a leader. He is in his first year of varsity and it is outstanding how, in his first year, he has went into things and won sectionals and regionals. That confidence is really big as he goes to wrestle possibly Mater Dei [Jacob Pierson] in the round to go to state, and last time it was an OT loss.” — Danny Struck
Dylan Thompson, 195
Opponent: Destin Hardy (28-4), North Knox
Coach’s comment: “He wrestled 160 on junior varsity last year, and moved up to 220 pounds first meet this year. He has been a season of amazement. He is first-year varsity and boasting HHC and sectional titles. He has an uphill battle wrestling. But this kid has been amazing people all year.” — Danny Struck
Matt Munoz, 285
Opponent: James Beavers (24-7), Paoli
Coach’s comment: “Matt has been on the rise the past two seasons. His quickness with his hands is amazing his opponents. He is on a streak as he lost sectional but won regionals. This sophomore should really be thinking about a trip to Indianapolis next week, that is our goal for him.” — Danny Struck
Opponent: Colin Kreitzer (22-4), Brownsburg
Coach’s comment: “RJ has been a great role model and leader by doing the little things like running extra after practice, always mentoring the younger guys and leading by example. His intensity, perseverance and work ethic make him a throwback wrestler that I have been proud to coach this season. It’s a tall task but I think we’re up for it.” — JT Jenkins
Opponent: Evan Lawhead (26-13), Brownsburg
Coach's comment: "Chase is wrestling well right now and continues to work hard in the wrestling room to improve his technique." — Randall Lynch