Senior staff writer
Newly crowned state champion wrestler Noah Warren of Perry Meridian redefined perseverance Saturday night in his title match at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
In the 170-pound title match, the determined senior overcame cuts to his chin and was momentarily dazed early on and further injured his right knee with 74 seconds remaining.
Each time the duel against senior Jordan Rader had to be stopped.
“With one minute left, you never want to give up,” Warren said afterward. “Our crowd kept cheering. I had to make sure he didn’t overtake me.”
Warren maintained his 7-5 lead to the end in his third trip to the finals.
Warren had a quick wake-up call when Rader sent him hard to the mat early, resulting in cuts that later were stitched.
“I had to sit for a while,” Warren admitted. “When we started again, I felt really confident that I could take him. It made it exciting.”
The takedown put Warren behind 2-0 early, but he battled back and took down Rader for a 3-2 lead near the end of the first period. He never trailed again.
Warren, 45-1, becomes the first state champion under second-year coach Matt Schoettle.
“The championship match was like a microcosm of his career,” Schoettle said. “He faced adversity with being injured but preserved. Just like his career, any time he faced adversity he faced it head on and overcame.”
Warren was the 152-pound runner-up last year and was fourth in 2016.
“Last year (finals) really helped me,” Warren said. “You stand and wait before introductions, by then my legs were weak and my heart was pounding. This time I was able to relax by telling myself this was just another match.”
“Noah is the epitome of Perry Meridian wrestling,” Schoettle praised. “He joined the club at an early age and has worked for this moment since he was about 5 years old. He has done all the extra training in the offseason that we have ever asked.”
Warren was one of three Falcons to reach a state championship match Saturday.
Freshman Alexander Cottey lost 9-1 to Portland’s Jacob Moran in the 106-pound class, and 120-pounder Sammy Fair, a junior, was defeated 2-1 by Hunter Walls of Jimtown.
Following the family tradition, Center Grove senior Gleason Mappes reached the finals for the fourth time. He was fourth last year and in 2016.
Facing off against Nicholas South of Columbus East for the third time this season, Mappes fell behind early but tied South at 3 with a takedown in the second period. He gained the lead at 5-4 with a reverse but did not score another point until late in the third. South won 9-6.
“I was motivated; it was my goal to be a state champion,” Mappes said. “This hurts but I left my heart out there, and that’s all I could do.”
Mappes completed the family’s 13 straight years on the high school mat. His brothers were there Saturday: 2012 state champ Sean, third-place Shelby and University of Indianapolis wrestler Rhett. Their father, Donald, was a 1978 champion at Roncalli.
Mappes became the first wrestler from his family and Center Grove to qualify for the finals four times.
Roncalli’s Sam Hansen, a 195-pounder, faced a monumental challenge in his title match against undefeated Lucas Davison of Chesterton. Davison dominated 19-7 as Hansen finished his senior season 41-3.
Other Southside results:
Beech Grove – Ethan Smiley, 126, seventh; Bailey Moore, 138, first round.
Center Grove – Alex Petro, 113, first round; Shane Stits, 195, fourth.
Perry Meridian – Aiden Warren, 152, first round; Brooks Davis, 160, seventh; Daniel Below, 182, first round.
Roncalli – Brayden Lowery, 113, fifth; Alec Viduya, 126, fourth; Elijah Mahan, 170, fifth.