When Columbus East’s wrestling regular season ended two weeks ago, Brendan Stadtmiller thought his season was over, as well.
The sophomore, who had wrestled mostly junior varsity this season, continued coming to practice, however, to train with the Olympians varsity. The 152-pounder basically was training for next season.
Then, on the eve of Saturday’s Jennings County Sectional, East coach Chris Cooper had to dismiss his 160-pounder from the team. That opened the door for Stadtmiller to step into the lineup.
“My season was pretty much over,” Stadtmiller said. “So at practice, I wasn’t going real hard. So I came to practice, and I had to try really hard at that point.”
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But he had only one day — more precisely, a two-hour practice — to prepare for the biggest meet of his life.
That would be all Stadtmiller needed. He finished fourth at 160 to advance to Saturday’s Jeffersonville Regional.
“I was kind of nervous because I thought I had to fill our varsity guy’s shoes, and it really scared me,” Stadtmiller said. “Then, my team kind of helped me, said that I have nothing to prove going in there being a JV guy, being nobody basically, and it helped me not be nervous.”
Things didn’t start off well for Stadtmiller in the sectional. He was pinned by Columbus North’s Nick Holt in the quarterfinals, sending Stadtmiller to the loser’s bracket.
Stadtmiller caught a break when he received a forfeit in his first wrestleback match. He then pulled out an 11-9 decision against Mitchell Adcock of Southwestern (Hanover) before falling to Seymour’s Jacob Rotert 9-5 in the third-place match.
Although Stadtmiller was only 3-12 in varsity matches going into the sectional, Cooper said he wasn’t surprised he was able to make it through to regional.
“Coaching the kids throughout the year, we try to prepare them for an opportunity like that,” Cooper said. “You never know when an opportunity is going to come, so if you’re not prepared for it when it happens, the opportunity is going to pass you by. That’s something we talk in practice about all the time — being ready to go, being ready to step in.”
Stadtmiller, who runs hurdles on East’s track team, played football as a freshman, but gave up that sport this year. He admits he’s not very strong right now and is hoping to gain muscle for next year and move up a couple weight classes.
Saturday, Stadtmiller (5-14) wrestles Floyd Central junior Devon Stikes (28-6) in the opening round of the regional. The winner is guaranteed a top-four finish and a spot in the Feb. 11 Evansville Semistate.
While winning that first-round match is a goal, perhaps more importantly, Stadtmiller wants to help the Olympians capture their first regional title in school history.
“I want to go out there and give up the least amount of bonus points as possible and put us in a good position to win,” Stadtmiller said.
What: Jeffersonville wresting regional
When: 9:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Jeffersonville High School
Who: Columbus East wrestlers in all 14 weight classes, while Jennings County has eight, Columbus North five and Brown County four.
Advancement: Top four in each weight class qualify for Feb. 11 Evansville Semistate