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  • Val T.

State champ Fishback is RTC wrestler of the year

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Rochester wrestling coach Clint Gard kept calling Stacey Ropp, asking if her son Marshall Fishback wanted to wrestle during his freshman year in high school.

RTC Wrestler of the Year Marshall Fishback

Fishback had tried wrestling when he was in kindergarten. Gard had remembered. Then Fishback stopped.

Gard’s insistence worked, but it took awhile. Fishback passed on wrestling as a freshman but tried it again as a sophomore. The legend was born. Three years later, he became Rochester’s first state champion when he beat Westfield’s Mihail Platonov in an ultimate tiebreaker in overtime at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Fishback won it with defense. He was impossible to ride from the bottom position, and most opponents rarely even tried, realizing they would just be wasting their time and energy.

He also became impossible to get a takedown against. Opponents had no chance at attacking his legs.

“It takes a lot of balance,” Fishback said. “We work on it all the time in practice. We work defense all the time.”

Fishback’s improbable rise from a wrestler who did not qualify for the regional as a sophomore – “I was kinda strong,” he said looking back – to state champion as a senior is not only credit to his indomitable will but also makes him the RTC wrestler of the year.

He credited strength training and eating – “painful eating,” he emphasized – for transforming his body.

“Putting way more protein in my body than I ever wanted to … four eggs, four peanut butter toasts every breakfast,” Fishback said. “It’s been that way for the last two years.”

Fishback was also representative of Rochester’s rise from a good program to a conference, sectional, regional and semistate champion.

Though Fishback might have been the only area wrestler to have a day named in his honor by the mayor, he’s one of many outstanding wrestlers who made this year’s all-RTC wrestling team.

Never has wrestling been more of a year-round sport than it has now. Rochester is setting a standard, and if other schools want to keep up with the Zebras, they are going to have to put more time in as well, both during the winter and during the offseason.

We chose two wrestlers per weight class – one for the first team and one honorable mention. While we thank coaches for keeping us up to date on their wrestlers’ progress and for their insights on the sport,

We place particular emphasis on how a wrestler did in their conference tournament and

First team

  • 106 – Eli Wildermuth (Winamac) – Promising freshman won the Hoosier North title and went 19-8 as a freshman.

  • 113 – Wyatt Davis (Rochester) – Davis went 27-5 and qualified for the state finals as a freshman after winning TRC and sectional titles. He had a variety of finishing moves and was ruthlessly efficient.

  • 120 – Ethan Holloway (Rochester) – Holloway went 39-1, but his only loss came in the ticket round at semistate, ending his season. Holloway pushes tempo and is an expert at using an opponent’s leverage against them.

  • 126 – Aaron Swango (Rochester) – In a year of emotional moments, Swango’s win by fall in the regional final at Maconaquah was only surpassed by Fishback’s exploits. Swango got within one win of making the state finals.

  • 132 – Drake Montelongo (Tippecanoe Valley) – After missing out on semistate last year, Montelongo, a Lindsey Wilson College recruit, made it back to East Chicago for the third time this year.

  • 138 – D.J. Basham (Rochester) – Basham went 18-16 and qualified for regional. He’s a strong athlete who continued to get better.

  • 145 – Tyler Tankersley (Winamac) – Tankersley was the Hoosier North runner-up at 138 and then stepped up to 145 for the state tournament series and qualified for regionals. He won 17 matches this year.

  • 152 – Greyson Gard (Rochester) – Gard is a tough scrapper who relied on his conditioning and his inside leverage to go 32-7 and get within a win of the state finals.

  • 160 – Brendan Day (Winamac) – Day won the Hoosier North title and got back to the regional for the third time in his career. A close call over Gavin McKee for this spot.

  • 170 – Caleb Good (Winamac) – Another of that veteran Winamac core won Hoosier North and sectional titles before his season eventually ended at semistate.

  • 182 – Brandon Hammer (Tippecanoe Valley) – We had three area 182-pounders get to semistate, but our pick is Hammer, who combined great strength and athleticism and a strong mindset.

  • 195 – Alex Deming (Rochester) – Deming’s promise and potential as a 182-pound freshman was realized as a 195-pound sophomore as he was a state qualifier. He’s supremely conditioned and often outlasted most opponents.

  • 220 – Brady Beck (Rochester) – Beck was sixth at state after winning conference, sectional and regional titles. He’s always been great at the bottom position, but he also has a wide variety of moves on his feet or from the top position.

  • HWT – Marshall Fishback (Rochester) – Fishback put on about 20 more pounds and added extra power to go with his already unique mobility for a big man. By the end of the year, he was impossible to get a takedown against.

Honorable mention

  • 106 – Cooper Winn (Rochester)

  • 113 – Austin Attinger (Winamac)

  • 120 – Galvin Shambaugh (Tippecanoe Valley)

  • 126 – Quin Kelly (Caston)

  • 132 – Joey Spencer (Rochester)

  • 138 – Ivan Callender (Culver)

  • 145 – Eli Nicoll (Pioneer)

  • 152 – Phillip Crippin (Winamac)

  • 160 – Gavin McKee (Rochester)

  • 170 – Peyton Schnurpel (Pioneer)

  • 182 – Logan Smith (Pioneer)

  • 195 – Bazle Owens (Tippecanoe Valley)

  • 220 – Dalton Alber (Tippecanoe Valley)

  • HWT – Garrison Hickle (Caston)

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