State qualifier: Rochester’s Alex Deming
Sophomore admits nerves factored in loss to Willman
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
INDIANAPOLIS — It was an unfamiliar opponent who wrestled an unfamiliar style, especially from the top position.
Add that to a case of the nerves, and Rochester sophomore Alex Deming’s stay in the 195-pound bracket at the IHSAA state finals lasted just 1:35 before he lost by fall to North Posey’s Wyatt Willman at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Friday afternoon.
Willman got an early double-leg takedown and then worked on Deming’s shoulders.
“Get to your base,” Rochester coach Clint Gard yelled from the sidelines.
But it was too late. Willman bent him back and turned him before the referee’s hand hit the mat.
In wrestling lingo, the move is called a “barbed wire,” a “butcher” or a crossface bundle.
“The kid had a really tough ride,” Rochester coach Clint Gard said. “We had talked about it and worked on some things, and I think Alex kinda panicked, which was what we told him not to do. That kid rides a little bit differently, and I just think it threw Alex off.”
While Deming was a state newcomer, Willman was fifth in the same weight class at the 2021 state finals.
“I definitely wasn’t ready,” Deming said. “You know, I was nervous. Big moment, and he just came out of the gate, and I wasn’t ready.”
Gard echoed the importance of Willman’s previous state experience.
“I told him afterwards we got taken down real quick with the double-leg, I think that’s the difference between being there before and not being there before,” Gard said. “Or being nervous and not being nervous. I think the whistle blows, we took two or three steps back, that kid took two or three steps forward. That kid just did not care. And I think nerves got to him a little bit. Which was surprising. I didn’t expect that to happen, but every kid reacts differently to it.
“And the kid’s a tough kid, a tough wrestler. And we made some mistakes that were uncharacteristic, which usually goes back to there’s nerves, your mind’s not thinking right, you’re not able to work through the match.”
Still, Deming went 41-3 for the season, jumping from regional qualifier to state qualifier in one season. He won the Three Rivers Conference, sectional and regional titles along the way this season.
In a wrestling room known for its hard workers, Deming stood out even there. It wasn’t uncommon for him to get an extra workout on the Peloton after he got home from a grueling practice.
Deming also starred on the football field, rushing for 1,589 yards and 21 touchdowns in just eight games.
“A lot of offseason work definitely and a lot of time in the weight room,” Deming said. “You can see it in football too. Lots of work put in, and I guess more needs to be done to achieve my goals.”
Deming said he wants to become more aggressive. Gard thinks whatever issues Deming might have had at state can be cured simply by wrestling more.
“I just think continuing to get more mat time and seeing if we can get into some tournaments and offseason work where he’s in those types of matches a little bit more,” Gard said. “To where you’re wrestling for a title or you’re wrestling for something big, so you work on those nerves and you understand what it feels like and just put yourself on those positions.”
Gard said that the coaching staff won’t overreact to one bad match to end the season.
“It’s not a good representation of what we saw all year out of Alex,” Gard said. “So we’re not going to blow everything up just because of one match. We're going to keep working hard. I know he’s going to keep lifting hard. I know he wants to get up to 200 or 205 for football, so we’ll hopefully make that happen, and then he wants to wrestle 195 again. So we’ll keep working on being bigger and stronger and being more athletic, and if we can add a few things here and there technique-wise, he’ll be fine.”
Asked what it’s like to wrestle at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Deming called it “insane.”
“I was super nervous for semistate and even more nervous for today,” Deming said. “I guess I hope to be here next year, and next year is hopefully going to be a different outcome.”