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  • Val T.

‘We’ve done a complete 180 in our team culture:’ Rochester beats No. 1 Adams Central to win 1A Team State Duals title


Sports Editor, RTC

The Rochester wrestling team celebrates with the Class 1A Team State Duals trophy Saturday. The Zebras defeated Prairie Heights 51-26, Cowan 57-21 and Adams Central 46-24 at the RHS gym Saturday for the title. It is the first team state duals title in school history. (photo provided by Paul Deming)

Rochester wrestling coach Clint Gard challenged his team twice in advance of the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Class 1A Team State Duals at the RHS gym Saturday.

The first was to the entire team. He told them to band together and to support each other more, to appreciate each other and what they put in to make the team successful.

They had lost a dual to West Central at the Rensselaer Joe Burvan Holiday Duals and dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in the rankings behind West Central.

The second challenge was specifically aimed at Colin Weiand, Alex Deming and Brady Beck. Gard said he heard a commentator opine on an IndianaMat podcast that Adams Central had the best 190-215-heavyweight combination in Class 1A. Those happen to be the weights that Weiand, Deming and Beck wrestle, respectively.

The rest was Rochester wrestling history, a symbiotic relationship coalescing from wrestler to wrestler and from team to fan, and it ended when the Zebras earned a 46-24 win over the top ranked Flying Jets to win the title.

Rochester coaches celebrate with the Class 1A Team State Duals Trophy. From left – volunteer assistant Abram Ferrara, volunteer assistant Damic Beck, assistant coach Bryce Roberts, coach Clint Gard, assistant coach Derrick Holloway, assistant coach Tristan Wilson. (photo provided by Paul Deming)

Rochester went 3-0 on the day and is now 18-2 on the season. They defeated Prairie Heights 51-26 in the quarterfinals and Cowan 57-21 in the semifinals earlier in the day.

“It’s probably up there,” Gard chuckled when asked to compare the feeling to other team accomplishments in his coaching career. “It feels real good to me, so just from everything, from hosting and the job we did hosting the tournament to how our kids competed to winning it. I’m just really proud of how our kids responded after the West Central loss of a few weeks ago. I think when you look at the pictures that Paul Deming and other people have posted on social media and you see how other kids react for each other on the bench and how they supported each other all day, I think that’s probably what I’m most proud of.

“We’ve done a complete 180 in our team culture, I would say.”

Grant Holloway (106/113), Layne Horn (126), Wyatt Davis (150/157), Brant Beck (165) and Brady Beck (HWT) all went 3-0 and scored the maximum 18 points on the day.

Declan Gard (175), Weiand and Deming also went 3-0 on the day.

Rochester wrestlers celebrate after Kale Shotts’ fall in 2:36 over Adams Central’s Xander Schwartz gave the Zebras the Class 1A Team State Duals title at the RHS gym Saturday. Seeded third, Rochester defeated Prairie Heights 51-26, Cowan 57-21 and Adams Central 46-24 for the title. (photo provided by Paul Deming)

A team accomplishment rivaling winning the Fort Wayne semistate among schools in all classes in 2022 and 2023, they capped the win when freshman Kale Shotts won by fall over Adams Central’s Xander Schwartz, fighting off Schwartz’s cradle attempt and pinning him in 2:36 to give Rochester a 40-21 lead and clinch the win and set off a euphoric celebration near the Rochester bench.

Brant Beck won by fall in 35 seconds, and Declan Gard overcame a stalling penalty called against him to get two takedowns and squeeze out a 10-8 win.

Then came Weiand, Deming and Brady Beck.

Weiand took on Trevor Currie, who is ranked No. 15 according to and who is also an all-state tight end on Adams Central’s Class 1A state runner-up football team.

The match was tied 2-2 after two periods before Weiand, ranked No. 19, got an escape and a single-leg takedown, and he held on to win 5-3.

Deming, an all-state running back, then took on Keegan Bluhm, an all-state linebacker. Deming, ranked eighth in the state, gave up an early reversal to Bluhm but reversed him right back.

Two takedowns in the second period and two takedowns and bonus back points in the third period punctuated Deming’s 15-6 win.

Then came Brady Beck’s match with Adams Central’s mountainous Zac Wurm, who is listed at 6-3 and 285 pounds on Adams Central’s football roster. After a scoreless first period, Brady Beck, yielding approximately 30 pounds to Wurm, got an escape and a takedown to go up 3-0 before getting back points and finally turning him with a crossface move.

After the official put his hand on the mat, Brady Beck raised his arms to the crowd.

“We had a great crowd,” coach Gard said. “The kids loved it.”

The lead was 22-0, and Rochester had swept the Adams Central big man gauntlet.

“We made sure that Colin, Alex and Brady knew that,” coach Gard said of the podcast. “And we made sure that it wasn’t something we brushed to the side and laughed off. It was a challenge we laid down to them. They took it personal. That’s as motivated as I’ve ever seen Colin Weiand on a wrestling mat. … He was very, very motivated.”

Grant Holloway, back less than three weeks after right knee surgery, pinned Myles Kaehr in 4:00 to make it 28-0.

Coach Gard said Holloway received his medical clearance to wrestle on Dec. 29.

“We didn’t want it out there,” coach Gard said. “We didn’t want it on IndianaMat. We didn’t even tell the team. We just said he was released to practice, and it would be a game-time decision. … We wanted to keep it to ourselves. We didn’t want to give other teams a chance to plan for him being back in the lineup. We wanted teams to come in overconfident.”

Horn (126) and Davis (157) also had falls.

Semifinals: Rochester 57, Cowan 21

Cowan was back in the RHS gym after finishing third at the Rochester John McKee Memorial Invitational on Dec. 16, and they blocked a West Central-Rochester rematch when they beat West Central 61-15.

In the marquee match, No. 5 Brant Beck won an injury default in the third period after No. 7 Levi Abbott used up his allotted five minutes of blood time.

Officials stopped the match on eight different occasions to try and patch up Abbott’s nosebleed. At one point, Cowan coaches wrapped gauze all the way around Abbott’s face but still could not stop the blood.

Brant Beck was leading 5-1 at the time of the stoppage. Brant Beck also beat Abbott 4-3 at the McKee tournament this year. He lost to Abbott in the third-place match at last year’s Fort Wayne semistate.

First-period falls from Gard, Weiand, Deming and Brady Beck increased the lead to 30-3.

The Rochester bench celebrates Ethan Holloway’s fall over Adams Central’s Myles Kaehr during the Class 1A Team State Duals 106-pound title match Saturday. Rochester beat the top-seeded Flying Jets 46-24. (photo provided by Paul Deming)

Holloway bumped up to 113 to stick Emma Jones in 1:09. A Horn pin in 28 seconds, a 7-2 D.J. Basham decision over Raef Keith, a Shotts pin and a Davis forfeit win completed Rochester’s scoring.

“Absolutely,” coach Gard said when asked if Basham was wrestling as well as he had ever wrestled. “He’s just been wrestling really, really hard. He’s just done a really, really good job for us. I’m very proud of him. We asked him this week to drop to 132 just to give us some options to move kids around at 132 and 138. We asked him to do that after Rensselaer, and he dropped four or five pounds juts to give us a chance to give us to have some more flexibility in our lineup.”

Quarterfinals: Rochester 51, Prairie Heights 26

Prairie Heights took down Faith Christian 57-18 in their first-round match while Rochester had a bye.

The dual got off to an inauspicious start when Brock Hagewood stuck Braylon Smith in 19 seconds at 150, but Rochester then won the next seven matches – six of them by fall – to take a 39-6 lead.

That was highlighted by Deming swarming Austin Abbott right at the whistle and earning the fall in seven seconds, drawing a fist pump from Deming.

Horn later needed only 17 seconds to stop Andrew Jewell, and D.J. Basham bundled and pinned Boston Baas in 1:28 at 132.

Ranked eighth, Gard said Horn is nearing a single-season school record for pins currently held by Damon Hummel. Horn is undefeated, and only one opponent has lasted six minutes against him. Improved health might explain his success, according to coach Gard.

“He tore his meniscus at the conference tournament, so he wrestled the next five weeks with a torn meniscus that he had to have surgery for at the end of the season,” coach Gard said. “A lot of people don’t know that. So the last five weeks of last season was pretty tough on him. … He put a ton of time in over the spring, summer and fall. He’s had a great season. … He’s been nothing short of dominant.”

The win over Prairie Heights was just the start of what was to be a glorious day.

“There’s been a level of support, but we challenged our kids to just give a little bit more,” coach Gard said. “And what I mean by that is wrestling is such an individual sport that you can really get caught up in if you do your job, everything takes care of itself.

“But I believe there’s more than that. A Brady Beck or an Alex Deming or a Layne Horn or a Declan Gard or a Brant Beck. … you can name them all … those guys can go out and get pins and get wins, but what are you doing to help your teammates before, during and after their match? What kind of energy are you bringing during each match that’s out there? We preach the individuality of wrestling, and so what happens is a kid goes out, he warms up, he takes care of business, he does his job, he gets off the mat, and he’s in his own world, so to speak, and not always into what’s going on in the next match or the match before him or the match after him or three matches after him. And so we just really challenged our kids the last couple weeks to just give more energy, give more to everybody that’s on the team and help each other out, keep each other positive, and when bad things are happening, be vocal and be supportive and help out and keep cheering on each wrestler and each teammate so there’s more to give.”

Zebra notes

  • In the IndianaMat rankings dated Jan. 4, Horn is No. 8 at 126, Davis is No. 18 at 150, Brant Beck is No. 5 at 165, Weiand is No. 19 at 190, Deming is No. 8 at 215, and Brady Beck is No. 2 at heavyweight. 

  • The conference tournament is Jan. 20 at Maconaquah. The IHSAA state tournament begins with sectionals on Jan. 27. Rochester will travel to Plymouth for its sectional. Plymouth is one of two teams to beat Rochester in a dual this year.

  • The IHSWCA divides schools into four classes based on enrollment; the IHSAA does not. Team state duals have been held annually since 2013. This is Rochester’s first team state duals title. Tell City, the three-time defending state champ, lost 38-34 to Adams Central in the semifinals. Adams Central had won team state duals titles in 2013, 2015 and 2019. Prairie Heights won it from 2016-18.

  • Delta won the Class 2A title, Floyd Central won the 3A title, and Crown Point won the 4A title. Like Rochester, none of the four state championship teams were the No. 1 seed in their class.

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