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  • Val T.

State qualifier: Rochester’s Wyatt Davis

The first Zebra frosh to make state since 2004 will need to work on his feet


Sports Editor, RTC

INDIANAPOLIS — In a backstage area at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Friday night, Rochester wrestling coach Clint Gard tries to reassure his 113-pound freshman Wyatt Davis.

He had just lost to Indian Creek’s Jackson Heaston 12-5 in the first round of the IHSAA state finals

Slumped against the wall with streaks of tears down his face, the reassurance was hard in the moment for Davis to hear.

Davis had become the first Rochester freshman wrestler since Garrett James to make the IHSAA state finals since Garrett James in 2004. But he wanted to accomplish so much more.

Heaston recorded six takedowns, and in the post-match analysis, both Gard and Davis agreed why: When Davis and his opponent are seemingly rolling around on the mat, he has an effective arsenal of moves. But on his feet, Davis is more vulnerable.

“I think he exposed some things Wyatt needs to work on,” Gard said. “He’s heavy on his lead leg, Wyatt was, and the kid’s pretty quick. Very quick, in fact. When we’re heavy and kind of stomping and doing what Wyatt likes to do, the kid’s timing us and picking us apart.

“Tough kid. Wyatt needs to get better on his feet. We knew that all season long, but when you don’t wrestle kids that expose that, it’s hard to figure out those little things you need to work on.”

Davis’ assessment was harsher.

“About everything that possibly could,” he said when asked what went wrong. “I did decent on bottom, but on my feet, I was just terrible.”

Davis was asked about Heaston’s quickness.

“He was very quick, but I just kept putting my feet in the wrong position,” Davis said.

The fix will be working on his stance and motion, according to Gard. He can’t be so heavy on his feet. He needs to “keep his level down” and work on some set-ups.

Davis came into the state tournament ranked No. 13. Heaton was No. 6 and had beaten Davis at a tournament at Mount Vernon last summer.

“We’ve just got to continue to improve and work on those little things, and when we’re in the practice room, just focus on that a little bit, and just be mindful of it. It’s not something that he’s got to come in every day and work for two hours to fix. It’s just continuous improvement.”

Davis went 27-5 as a freshman. His lightning-quick falls, even of highly ranked opponents, became something of a trademark.

He won the sectional title at Peru and spent less than four minutes on the mat in winning three matches. He needed only 17 seconds to win his regional ticket, and his regional semifinal match against Peru’s Conner Shaffer, a senior, also ended in the first period.

In the semistate, where falls are hardly plentiful, he had a pair of first-period falls. That included a 28-second pin against Cowan’s Bowen Keith in the semifinals.

“We’ll work on it,” Gard said. “We’ll keep getting better.”

Besides the loss to Heaston, his other four losses were to Western’s Tanner Tishner, including losses in the regional and semistate finals. Like Davis, Tishner lost in the first round at state.

Davis was asked if making state was an amazing accomplishment.

“Yeah,” he said. “But I think I could have done better.”

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