Indian Creek’s Heaston looks to make long postseason run

The majority of Johnson County wrestlers go west to Mooresville to begin postseason competition, the exception being southbound Indian Creek.

The differences, as Braves junior Jackson Heaston knows well, stop there. From this point forward, it’s about survival and advancement, starting with the team’s participation in Saturday’s sectional at Bloomington North.

Heaston qualified for the quarterfinals of the Jasper semistate as a 106-pounder last winter but lost to North Posey’s Blake Zirkelbach, 5-1. The result concluded a season in which Heaston prevailed in 24 of 28 matches, but just missed what would have been his first state finals.

To his credit, Heaston didn’t let the loss consume him during the offseason.

“I feel like it left pretty fast,” said Heaston, who enters Saturday’s sectional with a 31-1 record and No. 6 state ranking at 113 pounds. “Of course, I still have regrets. I still watch that match.

“I still see the mistakes I made, but it’s out of my head now. It’s not going to affect me.”

Heaston’s lone loss this season was to fourth-ranked Evan Seng of Evansville Mater Dei in a holiday tournament semifinal. Since then, he’s won his weight class at both the Johnson County and Western Indiana Conference meets.

Heaston enters the postseason with a career record of 78-15.

Now in the second half of his prep wrestling career, Heaston has learned from and been toughened by the losses — 10 of which came as a ninth-grader who made it to regional.

“Jackson’s confidence is definitely a lot higher than it’s been in years past, and it shows in the way he wrestles,” Indian Creek coach Pat Dowty said. “He wrestles with confidence from the moment he steps on the mat until the end of the third period.

“He also knows he has a shot to be at the top of the podium (at state), so he wrestles with that in mind, like, ‘This is where I belong.’ Even the matches we know he should win, he goes out and wins big when he should win big. Jackson has just been dominant all year.”

Approximately half of Heaston’s victories this season are by pin. He’s scored victories against 12th-ranked Eddie Goss of Center Grove, No. 18 R.J. Taylor of Perry Meridian on three separate occasions and Monrovia’s Isaac Ash, ranked 22nd in the state.

Once the potential-heavy upstart, Heaston is now the savvy veteran. Conversely, Goss, Taylor and Ash are now the freshmen gaining valuable varsity experience with every match, postseason or otherwise.

“Right now, it’s a matter of Jackson staying the course and doing what he’s been doing all year,” Dowty said. “We had a close match with Seng, so the goals are obviously are to win sectional, win regional and get to semistate and start game-planning on how we’re going to approach it.

“Evansville is going to be tough.”

Heaston is ready. Even with five 113-rounders rated ahead of him, his goals remain the same.

Rankings are numbers. Nothing more.

“At the beginning of the year, I was really paying attention to them, but now it doesn’t really matter,” Heaston said. “Now you have to prove where you’re at in the standings. It depends on how you wrestle at the end of the year.”

“Hopefully, I can be in the top two at semistate and knocking off one of those big dogs like (third-ranked Brownsburg sophomore) Preston Haines or Evan Seng, and then going to state and placing pretty high.”