Titans wrestlers one step away from state finals

Photo by Travis David/Daily Clarion

Gibson Southern's Clay Singleton works for a pin last weekend in his third-place match of the regional. Singleton is making his third trip to the semistate.

FORT BRANCH -- Two steps down, one to go.

A total of eight Gibson Southern wrestlers have passed the first two tests of the postseason.

Now, each are just two more wins away from advancing to the IHSAA State Championships at Bankers Life Fieldhouse next weekend.

After setting a school record for semi-state qualifiers last weekend, the Titans look to advance one of their own, or more, to the state meet for the first time in four years.

The Titans take to the mats inside the Ford Center Saturday morning in part of the Evansville Reitz Semistate.

"We have had a good week of drilling and conditioning," Titans coach D.G. Asay said. "They are all excited. We have been able to get some rest this week to so I think their bodies are ready for Saturday. We are going there healthy which is a big deal."

Three of the eight Titan grapplers have past experience at the semi-state level.

Senior Clay Singleton has the most experience as he is making his third trip.

Singleton advanced as a freshman and again last season, both at 160 pounds -- same class as he is this season.

Last season, Singleton won his first match before losing a tough 3-1 decision as he fell just shy of the state finals.

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Saturday, the Titan senior enters with a record of 35-5 and takes on Austin Taylor (34-6) of New Washington.

Singleton, who is ranked No. 7, finished second at the sectional and third in last weekend's regional.

"The losses have humbled me and have made me work even harder in practice to try and correct those previous mistakes," Singleton said. "Now I just have to stay focused and keep my mind on what I need to do and not let the pressure take over."

A first-round win could place Singleton up against No. 4 ranked Peyton Pruett (37-1) of Center Grove in the quarterfinals.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state finals as wrestlers must win their first two matches on Saturday for a guaranteed top-4 finish in the 16-man bracket.

Aaron Breivogel, who won the 285-pound sectional championship and finished runners-up last weekend, takes a 35-7 mark into Saturday.

Breivogel was a semi-state qualifier as a freshman at 195.

The Titan heavyweight takes on Jack Biddle (28-6) of Plainfield. Biddle is ranked No. 15.

The third Titan grappler with semi-state experience is 145-pounder Owen Bryant.

The sophomore sports a 29-7 record and has a tall task in his first-round match.

Bryant takes on No. 7 ranked Jonathan Kervin (34-1).

The two met earlier this season, with Kervin earning a win by technical fall.

"He is tall and has long arms so I have been practicing with Clay this week to try and get used to his style," Bryant said. "I just need to stay calm and keep the pace the entire match."

Things do not get much easier for Christian Polen.

The 132-pound sophomore takes a 38-6 record into his first-round matchup against No. 7 ranked Logan Boe (16-4) of Plainfield.

Boe is two-time state place winner with a fifth-place finish last season at 120 and eighth place two years ago at 106.

At 152, Drew Dilbeck takes his 32-10 record up against No. 12 ranked Austin Heckman (28-4) of Edgewood.

Waiting in the quarterfinals would possibly be No. 5 ranked Jake Schoenegge (28-4) of Columbus East. Schoenegge placed 3rd at the state meet last season at 145.

A first-round win would likely pit Polen against No. 17 ranked Joey Gordon (32-7) of Columbus East.

Perhaps the toughest draw for the Titans is assigned to Max Ziller. The 120-pounder takes on No. 1 ranked Brayden Littell (36-0) of Center Grove.

Ziller is 29-12 on the season.

At 170, Landon Hoover (18-6) takes on Jalen Ward (22-14) of Franklin Community.

No. 1 ranked Nick South (36-0) of Columbus East would likely await in the quarterfinals.

South was the 160-pound state champion last season.

Macray Robinson (33-8) will face Caleb Murphy (22-4) of West Washington in the first round at 220.

Robinson finished the regular season ranked No. 19.

Despite some arduous matchups in the first and potential second round, one Titan wrestler is confident in himself and his teammates.

"A lot of our guys are faced with tough draws, but we all have been practicing hard all week," Bryant said. "I feel like we are ready as we can be."

Wrestling will commence at 9a.m. on Saturday.

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