- Val T.
Deming, Brady Beck win by decision, advance to state quarterfinals
Horn, Brant Beck, Valley’s Owens eliminated
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
INDIANAPOLIS — Rochester junior wrestlers Alex Deming and Brady Beck won their first-round matches at the IHSAA state finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Friday to each move within three wins of a state championship.
Meanwhile, teammates Layne Horn and Brant Beck were eliminated and saw their historic freshman campaigns end.
Tippecanoe Valley’s Bazle Owens also saw his prep wrestling career end.
Deming (195) and Brady Beck (220) were both guaranteed spots on the podium Saturday night with their wins.
Deming, who was eliminated in the first round at last year’s state finals, defeated Clinton Central’s Cael Albaugh 5-2 to improve to 44-0. He will face Brownsburg’s Gunner Henry in the quarterfinals.
“I thought Alex wrestled pretty well,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “Maybe a little tight, maybe a little nervous, but I thought he wrestled well. He got into his shots. … We knew he was going to throw legs. We got legs in. We cleared him. We came up. Tomorrow’s another day, and we just need to wrestle a little more open and be a little more confident in what we’re doing.”
After a scoreless first period, Deming earned an escape to start the second period. After Albaugh was called for a stalling warning, Deming got a takedown to take a 3-0 lead. He earned another takedown in the third period.
He said the experience of having already been to a state finals helped a lot. He said he had been working a lot on “doubles” in practice, which allowed him to make adjustments based on the looks his opponent was giving him.
“We’ve been working on two moves in a row a lot lately,” Deming said. “So you know, we shoot and then reshoot. So just shot, reshot. That’s basically what that was.”
Brady Beck earned his second straight podium finish when he topped Noblesville’s Austin Hastings 3-2. He will face Crown Point’s Will Clark in the quarterfinals in a showdown between the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in the state, according to IndianaMat.com.
Hastings defended Brady Beck’s double underhook try in the first period, so Brady Beck adjusted and attacked Hastings’ right leg to get the first takedown in the first period. He got an escape in the second period to make it 3-0. Hastings got an escape and a stalling penalty point on the third period, but Brady Beck hung on to beat the fourth-ranked Hastings for the third time this year.
“I think it’s just the pressure of the placing round,” Brady Beck said. “I had the same problem at semistate last week. Now that I’m through, I think it will get better. … It feels good. We’ve got three more (matches), but it feels good knowing that I’m on the podium. That pressure’s out of the way.”
Gard said he disagreed with the stalling call, saying that Hastings never tried a shot through the first two-and-a-half periods. He also said he understood the pressure of the situation.
“I get it,” Gard said. “You’re a 16, 17-year-old kid and wrestling in the state championships, and it comes down to a win or loss to accomplish what you want. Sometimes, kids shut down. So our goal for Alex and Brady tomorrow is to just open up, wrestle free, don’t try to hang on to a lead. Just keep building, keep wrestling hard, and hopefully, good things will keep happening.”
Horn (106) dropped a 4-2 decision to Avon’s Nathan Rioux. Ranked No. 1, he finished 39-2.
Rioux employed a counterattacking strategy, using Horn’s aggressiveness against him to jump out to a 2-0 lead and strong footwork to step over Horn to get the takedown that broke a 2-2 tie in the third period. He then rode Horn from the top position over the final minute to close out the match.
“He did this funk roll kind of thing,” Horn said. “And just held on to my ankle, and there’s not much really you can do from there other than just try and keep wrestling.”
Horn did not record a takedown in the match.
“Layne’s wrestled him in the past, and they did a good job of taking away some of the things Layne likes to do,” Gard said. “We knew he really wasn’t going to shoot on Layne. He was going to try to counter as much as he could. I think their game plan was we’re not going to shoot; we’re going to try to counter Layne’s offense. … It’s pretty hard to score on somebody who is going to play defense.”
Horn called the year “fun” and “enjoyable.”
“Everyone’s been there for each other, so it's been a fun year,” he said.
Brant Beck lost to Crown Point’s top-ranked Sam Goin 14-6. Goin, last year’s state champion at 152, had crisp footwork, giving Beck six escapes worth one point each in order to get two-point takedowns.
Brant Beck described his strategy as “go out, have fun, score points.” Goin had other ideas.
“Really good defense,” Gard said of Goin. “His block down, his hand-in-head defense was as good as any kid I’ve ever seen. … Part of that is Brant’s kind of a straight-in, straight-out kid. He’s a bulldog. He gets guys tired. We got the the number one kid in the state pretty tired in that match. But he’s just really good on defense. We couldn’t clear his arms, and we couldn’t clear his head.”
Brant Beck finished 37-6 with five of his losses occurring against seniors.
“I didn’t quite reach my goal,” Brant Beck said. “My goal was to place top five, but that all starts at sectionals depending on what you get at sectionals, what you get at regionals, what you get at semistate, and it all depends on that, so it just didn’t happen.”
Rochester wrestling was unavoidable at the state finals, whether it was the four current Zebras competing or the state finals program, which features 2022 grad and 2022 heavyweight state champion Marshall Fishback on the cover. An image of Fishback in the moment immediately after winning the first state title in school history appeared throughout Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
While Rochester’s Deming wrestled on one mat, his longtime Three Rivers Conference rival Owens (195) wrestled simultaneously on an adjacent mat.
Owens did get the first takedown against Southridge’s third-ranked Reid Schroeder, but Schroeder took a 3-2 lead after one period and then added an escape and a takedown to take a 6-2 lead.
From there, Schroeder showed his proficiency from the top position, turning Owens and getting two near falls worth three points each to build a 12-2 lead.
Another takedown and near fall ended the match with Schroeder winning a 17-2 technical fall in 5:22.
Owens was making his second state finals appearance. He was also eliminated in the first round at state in 2021.
Owens made state by finishing fourth at the East Chicago semistate on Feb. 11, earning his ticket with a fall over River Forest’s De’Aris Beason and an ultimate tiebreak thriller over Harrison (West Lafayette)’s Joshua McKelvin.
Owens is the first Valley wrestler to qualify for the state finals more than once.