Center Grove wrestling sends 10 to state finals

Center Grove won’t be asking for directions to the Ford Center this weekend.

On Saturday, the third-ranked Trojans racked up 190½ points to place second behind Brownsburg at the Evansville Semistate.

In the process, CG qualified 10 individuals for this weekend’s state finals, being held in the Pocket City for the first time in the tournament’s 86-year history. (Gainbridge Fieldhouse is unavailable due to the NBA All-Star Game.)

“We took 11 guys (to semistate) and thought we could qualify all 11. We came up a little bit short,” Trojans coach Maurice Swain said. “We’re happy as a whole how the guys performed. Getting 10 still puts us in a position where we can win it.”

Center Grove is coming off a program-best second-place performance at the 2023 state finals. It is expected to contend with Crown Point and Brownsburg for the overall team title this weekend.

Four Trojans stood atop the podium at semistate in seniors Charlie LaRocca (120 pounds), Reese Courtney (144), Wyatt Krejsa (150) and Nate Johnson (285). All were state finalists a year ago, when LaRocca won the 113-pound division and Courtney and Krejsa were runner-up at 138 and 145 pounds, respectively.

Eddie Goss (132 pounds), Silas Stits (157), Noah Clouser (170) and Kaden McConnell (190) all finished second on Saturday. Sophomores Joseph Hamilton (106) and William Vander Luitgaren (138) took fourth in their weight class.

McConnell was last year’s state runner-up at 195 pounds.

“The more guys on the podium, the better,” Swain said. “We’re going to have to put a good number of guys in the championship match or win, and the better chance we have to outscore everyone else.”

Indian Creek will be represented in Evansville this weekend by sophomore Oliver Hallett, who placed fourth at 165 pounds to earn his first trip to a state finals.

Franklin advanced nine wrestlers to the semistate, and Greenwood sent two, but neither will have a wrestler at state. For the Grizzly Cubs, sophomore Cory Fuller (165), senior Lance Jones (190) and freshman Kellen Fellure (215) each made it to the ticket round but came up short.