Roncalli’s wrestling team is saving its best for the last in this year’s IHSAA playoffs. After coming close to sectional and regional titles, the Rebels stepped up and captured the program’s first IHSAA semistate championship Saturday at New Castle. Third-year coach Wade McClurg’s grapplers snared four individual titles and edged back-to-back champs Cathedral, 104-97.5 for the team championship. Warren Central was third with 73 points and Perry Meridian fourth, 70 points.
Roncalli’s No. 4-ranked Braydon Lowery (120 pounds), No. 2 and 2017 state champion Alex Viduya (132), No. 2 Tyce Frieje (138) and No. 5 Elijah Mahan (170) earned semifinal titles. Teammate John Harris (285) was defeated in the final round.
“We are excited to continue to build and prepare for the state finals,” McClurg said. “Our guys have set themselves up well to make a run at their individual goals, and those performances can put our team in a position to bring home the big trophy.”
Also at New Castle, the state’s No. 1- ranked 106-pound wrestler, PM’s Alex Cottey, also won and advanced to the state finals where he was runner-up last year.
Center Grove’s No. 1 Brayden Littell (120) and No. 4 Peyton Pruitt (160) captured semfinal titles at Evansville Reitz. The Trojans were fourth to champion Brownsburg.
Additional state finals qualifiers who placed 2-4 in semistates are: No. 4 Aiden Warren (145), No. 9 Sammy Fair (152), No. 3 Brooks Davis (160), No. 12 Austin Lane (195) and No. 10 Sam Jones (285) of Perry Meridian and No. 5 Nick Willham (195) of Greenwood. A total of 14 wrestlers will represent Southside high schools in the IHSAA State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
First-round matches begin Frida at 6 p.m.; quarterfinals are Saturday at 9:30 a.m., thirdplace matches at 5 p.m., and finals at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8 per session or $20 for both days. At New Castle, Manan’s pin of Carmel’s Logan Hart assured the Rebels of their first semistate title. Lowery also pinned Warren Central’s Christopher Stewart. VIduya defeated WC’s Aundre Beatty, 5-0. Frieje downed Carmel’s Kyle Holman, 8-4. Roncalli coach McClurg expressed pride in his wrestler’s comeback Saturday.
“Gratitude is a Biblical principle that we talk about a lot in our wrestling program; gratitude in our program is defined as thinking of yourself less,” McClurg said. ‘We won the first team semistate championship in program history because our attitude and effort was top-notch. After we dropped three tough matches in the first two rounds, our five state finalists stepped up and ran like thoroughbreds by scoring a lot of bonus points for the team.”
PM’s Cottey remained unbeaten with a lively 9-4 win against Carmel’s Suhas Chundi.