Wrestling returns two state runner-ups, look to win state title


A. Matthews

Senior Drake Buchanan wrestles a Franklin wrestler in last year’s Johnson County tournament.

Brandon Martin, Staff Writer

With two returning state runner ups, head coach Maurice Swain has high hopes in his fourth-year coaching. Swain’s goal is simple but difficult: win a state title. This goal isn’t totally out of the question as Center Grove enters the season ranked No. 4. 

Returning Wrestlers to Watch:  

Drake Buchanan | Senior and team captain Drake Buchanan returns for his final season following his state runner-up campaign last season. Buchanan finished with an impressive 35-2 record, losing for the first-time last season in the semi-state championship match. Buchanan looks to be a key component for the wrestling team, as he tries to win an individual state title this season.

“The feeling of being so close but not winning was a crappy feeling that I don’t want to experience again,” Buchanan said, “It helped me figure out what areas I needed to improve, and what areas I need to train harder for this season, so hopefully now I can just get close with my team and stay healthy.”

Hayden Watson | Senior and team captain Hayden Watson returns for his final season following his state runner-up campaign last season. Watson finished with a record of 32-5 at 145 lbs. He lost in the state finals to Logan Wagner of Zionsville, who graduated. Watson is starting the season #1 in the state at 145.

“Being runner up at state really made me think of all the things that I could have done better in order to win that match,” Watson said. “It left a burning sensation in my heart of how I had the match won but didn’t come out with the victory and it motivates me every day to learn and excel in the practice room.”

Newcomers to Watch:

Julian Weems | Freshman wrestler Julian Weems had an outstanding 8th grade wrestling record of 17-0. He earned this through his technique and explosiveness on the mat. This year he has a chance to go far competitively according to Drake Buchannan.

“Julian is a very talented wrestler; his footwork is solid and he’s great on his feet. He’s great at wrestling in the top position which is great for the team when it comes to scoring points. We expect him to make it to state level competition as a freshman,” Buchanan said.

Charlie LaRocca | Sophomore wrestler Charlie LaRocca compiled a record of 26-5 last year. He was a semi-state ticket rounder, losing to Liam Krueger of Columbus East. LaRocca stays at 106, where he is ranked #10 in the state by Indiana Mat wrestling.

“Charlie is one of the leaders on the team as a lighter weight guy. When he goes out to wrestle we expect him to score points. He can keep guys down and is great in the top position. He helps the team out with much needed falls and is a great resource for scoring team points,” Hayden Watson said.

Most Anticipated Meets:

At Carmel | Dec. 15 Watch out for the dual meet at No. 8 Carmel on Dec. 15. Center Grove and Carmel have had a heated rivalry for years, and it’s expected that this year’s match will be high intensity. They’re the biggest threat in the MIC after Warren Central graduated all but two seniors last year. 

Al Smith Tournament | Dec. 29-30 All the big teams in the state will be there, including Perry Meridian, Crown Point, Cathedral and Columbus East. This will be one of the only times that the individuals match up against their rivals in the state tournament. This is the first time CG has been in the tournament for several seasons. 

Vs. Avon | Jan. 20 The Trojans will also face Avon on January 20. Avon is ranked No. 10 this season and is a competitive team. They have produced state qualifiers such as Cheaney Schoeff at 132 lbs.

Season Outlook:

 The team’s goals this season are to have multiple wrestlers compete for a state title and push to win MIC, the latter of which has never been achieved by the Trojans. The team hopes to place in the top four teams in state rankings or win team state.

Coach Swain feels this is achievable but he also feels there’s certain areas where the team needs to improve.

“I think we just gotta really work on our toughness, work on our technique, and just being stingy in all wrestling positions,” Swain said. “We’ve got a good group of guys that like to battle and compete, so if we continue to do that, we’ll be perfectly fine.”

With hopes high the Trojans first dual match of the season is Nov. 23 against Moorsville.