ARABIAN WRESTLING SOPHOMORE JARED BROWN QUALIFIES FOR IHSAA STATE
Saturday’s Semistate meet at New Castle was a mix of thrills, success and heartbreak. The highlight for the Arabians was sophomore Jared Brown, who qualified for the State tournament next weekend at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis by way of his 4th place finish at 126 pounds.
The New Castle semistate is often referred to as a “meatgrinder” as powerhouse programs from Cathedral, Perry Meridian, Roncalli and others present a gauntlet of skilled opponents for wrestlers to challenge for a top 4 placement. Statewide throughout all Indiana high schools, only 16 wrestlers will earn the trip to Indianapolis at each weight class.
Jared Brown got the action started in the first round with a 8-2 victory over Gaige Lloyd of Hamilton Southeastern. Jared came out firing, scoring on the first takedown and never looking back. Lloyd was unable to escape from the constant pressure from the top position by Jared. Brown put Lloyd in danger several times, and wrestled wisely to keep himself out of danger.
Jarod Miller’s first match of the day was a thriller that really got the whole audience into it. Miller started with the lead over Josh Moore of Southport. In the 2nd period however, Moore got into a groove and began putting points up against Jarod. The key moment was when Moore got in deep on a double leg and appeared to be driving Jarod straight to his back. Borrowing from his freestyle technique, Jarod locked around the opponent waist, used a leg to elevate the opponent and do a back somersault — sending Moore straight over the top of the move and to his back, with Jarod ending on top for nearfall! Moore escaped that trouble, but soon Miller was able to lock up a wrist and a half nelson and stack Moore up for the fall just before the 2nd period ended.
Clayton Todd was next up at 182 pounds. He faced an opponent from Fishers – state #14 ranked JD Farrell. It was a contrast of body styles – Clayton is built like a tank, and Farrell was extremely tall and lanky. Unfortunately, the arm length of Farrell and a defensive nature of wrestling meant that Clayton would struggle with getting past the hand defense to mount an attack or a shot. The final was a 9-2 loss for Clayton and the end to a wrestling career that spanned around 12 years. As with the other seniors here at New Castle, it was a great career.
At 195, returning state qualifier Tremor Bynum was matched against East Central’s Kyle Krummen. This match had some controversy – Tremor looked fantastic, scoring on takedowns and nearfall and building a good lead over Krummen. At the very end of the 2nd period, Bynum locked up a cradle on the edge of the mat and was awarded a fall as the buzzer went off. Tremor’s hand was actually raised in victory, however after a challenge by the opposing coach, the official signaled that the match would have to continue. Tremor still held a comfortable lead, but as time ticked down the unthinkable happened – Tremor was reversed and caught in an awkward position – Krummen locked up the hold and it was a heartbreaking loss by fall for Tremor. Tremor has been a role model for the young wrestlers on the team, serving as a measure of what it takes to reach Bankers Life – and of course for his trademark hair!
Cade Campbell at 220 had a first round match versus Alexander Burton from Eastern Hancock. Cade and Burton circled and worked on strong collar ties in the first period before Campbell attempted a shot and was stretched a bit before Burton went behind for the first 2 points of the match. In the 2nd period, Cade started down and spent the full 2 minutes trying to escape the clutches of the very strong opponent. Burton chose the down position in the 3rd and Cade was tough on top, but could never get one of his various techniques like a cross face cradle or a tilt. Tough match for Cade – he could never quite get to his offense. Good news for Cade is that this was his first trip to New Castle and with the experience of the crowd and the high stakes, it will prepare him for another run next year when he will try to reach the next phase.
Junior Justin Stephens at 285 has been battling and succeeding against larger wrestlers all season long, and it happened again. Justin has a knack for sometimes putting himself in danger – only to do a roll, a bridge, or a trip and suddenly be in the winners position. As a 4th place regional finisher, he was matched against the Richmond Regional champion – senior Ben Ahrens from Cambridge City Lincoln. Ahrens had the size advantage again, but Stephens was able to counter for the most part in the first period. In the second period, Justin found himself in trouble at the edge of the mat and on bottom. As you might have guessed, he did it again! He reversed the position, got the top and locked up a hold to get the fall 39 seconds into the 2nd! Justin would have a second match with the chance to move on to state!
With 3 wrestlers (Brown, Miller and Stephens) surviving the first round, New Castle moved on to the “ticket round”, where a win will punch your ticket to state.
First up was Jared Brown against Sam Slivka from Roncalli – the champion of the Perry Meridian Regional last weekend. Silvka, a junior, would be a tall challenge for Jared – but if you’ve followed the Arabians this year you know that Jared has another gear and instincts that allow him to be in the match with anyone in the state. Right from the start, Jared went on the attack – scoring a takedown with his lightning quick duck under as he’s done so many times this year. Slivka kept trying to mount a counterattack, but was thwarted at every opportunity by Brown, who would keep the pressure on top and score more off of nearfall. When the final buzzer sounded, it was a dominant 11-3 victory for Jared and a ticket to the state finals!
Jarod Miller would try to repeat that success with his second match at 160. He was pitted against powerhouse Hayden Lohrey of nearby Shenandoah high school. Lohrey was a 2-time state qualifier and he showed why – overwhelming Jarod off the whistle with a frenzied attack that put Jarod on the defense. Jarod fended the attacks off for a short time, but Lohrey scored on one and continued the move to put Jarod to his back for the fall. For Jarod, it was the end of a wrestling journey that included quite a few injuries he had to overcome – but his work ethic earned him a final match only one away from a state berth.
Justin Stephens had Hamilton Southeastern’s senior Crae Kunkleman in the quarterfinals. Kunkleman is an anomaly among the heavyweights – and the distinction of being one of the few heavyweights lighter than Justin. Despite the lack of size, Kunkleman is very mobile heavyweight with non typical attacks. He and Stephens tied up and Kunkleman countered Justin’s action with a throw-by putting Justin to the mat and finishing the match with a first period fall. Justin will have another year with the experience that comes with making it one match short of state – he has great potential with his natural abilities and should be exciting to see what he can do next year as he will be one of the senior leaders on the team.
Semistate moved on to the placement rounds – where the state qualifiers would battle for 1st through 4th place, which will set them up for next week’s matchups against other semistate victors.
Jared’s first matchup in the semifinal round was a repeat of last week’s regional – highly ranked Lukasz Walendzak from Indianapolis Cathedral. Brown shocked many with his victory over Walendzak last weekend, but today the Cathedral wrestler would avenge the loss. Brown came out firing, scoring a takedown and it looked as if the match would be another battle to the end. In the 2nd period, however, Walendzak got Jared off balance enough to put him to his back and he finished the match with a fall at the 2:31 mark. Continuing on to the deciding match for 3rd/4th place, Jared faced common foe and friend Chase Wilkerson, a senior from Mount Vernon. Brown started on the attack again, and again he would take a lead over the highly rated Wilkerson (ranked 9th in state). Similarly to the last match, Brown would lose by fall again in the 2nd period, getting caught on a move and locked down by the experienced Mount Vernon wrestler.
As a team, Pendleton Heights would finish 21st among the 62 teams represented at the New Castle semistate meet.j
Brown will continue on for one more week and another chance to shock the crowd with an upset – he will face Avon junior Raymond Rioux. Rioux is ranked 4th in the state, and won the semistate held at Evansville. He is also a 2-time state placer, finishing 3rd at 120 pounds last year. Jared definitely has the potential to pull off the victory in the Friday night match at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis!