Getting to the Indiana High School Athletic Association state wrestling championships is a daunting task.
Just ask Columbus North senior 182-pounder Luke Teague.
A returning sectional and regional champion for the Bull Dogs, Teague came a point from qualifying for the state tournament last season. He dropped a 4-2 overtime decision to Brownsburg’s Connor Ludwig in the qualifying round of the semistate tournament.
He wants to change that result this year. That quest continues on Saturday when Teague wrestles in the regional tournament at Jeffersonville High School. Wrestling begins at 9:30 a.m.
“It’s something that has
motivated me since that day last year,” Teague said of last season’s loss at semistate. “I think about it a lot, and I know what I need to do in order to get to state.
“I know I don’t have another shot at this after this season. I need to make the best of this opportunity and go out knowing I can do it.”
Bull Dogs coach Nick Skinner said the key to Teague making the state tournament is removing mistakes.
“He has been a great wrestler for us,” Skinner said of Teague, who has a 25-8 record this season after he won his second straight sectional crown Saturday at Jennings County High School. “He should’ve gone to state last year. He made one silly mistake and it cost him a shot to go. If he can wrestle how I know he can wrestle, he will be in good shape.”
While Teague said the regular season can be frustrating at times, he said he has been building momentum. Teague, a linebacker for the football team, has gone from one physically demanding season right into another.
“I had my high points and my low points,” Teague said of his regular season this winter. “There were matches where I knew I should’ve won, but the regular season is over and there are bigger things to focus on.”
“When it comes to the sectional, regional and semistate, nothing is easy,” Teague said. “My goal is to make it to state just like any other wrestler, but if wrestling has taught me anything, it’s that anything can happen.”
The Bull Dogs’ 220-pound junior Brandon Woods, a drill partner of Teague’s, said Teague’s determination to get to state has been a step above everyone else.
“He taught me so much in the past two years I’ve wrestled with him,” Woods said of Teague. “He always finds a way to have fun with it, but when it comes down to the matches, he’s an entirely different person.
“He made me a better wrestler just working with him, and the team looks up to him because he’s gotten farther than any of us and all of us want to do just as good.” Woods said.
For 285-pound senior Kenny King, Teague’s intensity in practice has rubbed off on other wrestlers.
“You can just tell he wants to get there,” King said of Teague. “From just practicing with him and being around him you can tell he wants it bad enough. He makes things fun and gets all of us relaxed before a big match, but he knows when to kick things in high gear.”
While Skinner acknowledged that Teague had his setbacks in the regular season, he said Teague turns into a completely different wrestler in the postseason.
“He had those little mistakes during the regular season,” Skinner said of Teague. “I don’t know how, but he just changes when the final weeks of the season come around. Last season he pinned nearly everyone at sectionals and regionals so I’m excited to see what he is going to do.”
After wrestling 12 years, and football on his mind after graduation, Teague said he expects to finish his wrestling career on top.
“I have matured so much from this sport,” Teague said. “I’ve done this since I was a kid going to club tournaments. The last thing that’s left for me to do is get to state, and I plan on doing that.”