By TRIBUNE SPORTS STAFF
INDIANAPOLIS — Kokomo’s Fletcher Miller and Peru’s Evan Loe both won their opening-round matches at the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals on Friday night. Both juniors have assured themselves of a medal and move on to a full day of competition today. The quarterfinals begin at 9:30 a.m. and the championship matches get spotlight treatment at 7:30 p.m.
Miller jumped out to a big lead quickly and went on to beat Bloomington South’s Boyd Haley 15-6 in 220-pound action at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“He did a real good job. He came out and got a takedown, stayed on the guy, had a lot of pressure on him,” Kokomo coach Ryan Wells said. “The objective was to go out and score a lot of points and try and turn him when we could, and that’s what he did. [After Haley scored] he kept good composure, kept his head and stayed solid the rest of the match and finished it the right way.”
Miller (48-0) will face Lawrence Central’s Myron Hamilton in the quarterfinals this morning.
“We got that first-match jitters out of the way, now we know we’re going to medal and to win in that fashion gives him a little bit of confidence going into [today],” Wells said. “Hopefully, he can go in there relaxed and do what he’s been doing and he should be OK.”
Kokomo senior 120-pounder Andrew Ledford lost 8-6 to Merrillville’s Adam Garcia. Ledford closes his senior season 45-5.
“Again, the objective there was to try and go out and score a takedown right away,” Wells said. “He took a nice shot and the kid did a nice job of reversing it. Ledford had a nice reversal and got his two points back. It was a back-and-forth match. He wrestled his heart out he wanted it so bad, just really went out there and fought hard. [Garcia] got fourth in the state a year ago. Ledford fought as hard as he could, couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Wrestling at 138 pounds, Loe scored a pin in 2:55 to beat Merrillville’s Isaac Rentas.
“I felt like I was in control the whole match. The first takedown sealed the deal,” the Bengal Tiger said.
Loe was up 4-0 when he scored his pin.
“Man, he went right out, controlled the tide, took a shot, he was relentless on the bottom, just did a super job physically controlling the tempo of the match,” Peru coach Andy Hobbs said. “He wrestled real confident. I liked it.”
Loe takes a 44-3 record into today’s quarterfinal matchup with Indian Creek’s Tyler Hupp. The Bengal Tiger feels significantly improved over last year, when he lost his opener at state, and the victory Friday gave him a jolt of confidence.
“All the confidence in the world, actually,” Loe said. “It’s really, really, really awesome that I made it to second day. I’ve always wanted to do this since I was a kid.
“I’m completely confident in myself that I’m going to make it to the finals this year.”
Hobbs has noted his growth, too.
“I would say his weaknesses are very small compared to last year, and his strengths have gotten even better,” Hobbs said. “He’s worked really hard at wrestling ... and it seems like he’s putting it together.”
Maconaquah’s Chase Miller lost his opener 15-0 to Lowell’s Drew Huges. Miller finished his junior season 42-8.
Clinton Central’s Jeffrey Scott was pinned by Fort Wayne North’s Anthony Linnear in 59 seconds of their opener. The CC junior finished the season 37-4.
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