When Columbus East’s Jimmy Fisher was a freshman, he watched the Indiana High School Athletic Association state championships in awe.
“Those guys were crazy tough,” Fisher said. “It’s hard to believe now that I was that good.”
Fisher not only advanced to the state tournament in his senior year, but he won three matches on his way to a fifth-place finish in the 170-pound weight class.
For his accomplishments, which included sectional and regional championships for the second consecutive season, Fisher is The Republic’s 2014 Athlete of the Year for wrestling.
“I am not going to sit here and say that I wasn’t happy with fifth place,” said Fisher, who finished 39-9. “And I feel good about the way it ended, especially because I won my last match. Not many guys get to do that.”
Fisher won the state opener 12-1 over Arsenal Tech’s Greg Johnson (35-5), then lost to Yorktown’s Dillon Jackson 7-4.
Then Fisher reeled off a 12-8 win over Connersville’s Colton Gonzalez, who finished 41-3, and a 7-2 victory in the fifth-place match over Carroll’s Tristan Wilson, who ended 46-4.
“He had a fantastic year,” Columbus East coach Chris Cooper said of Fisher. “He was wrestling as well as he had all season at the end of the day at the state meet. He wasn’t overly nervous about it.”
Fisher said he enjoyed the parade of athletes at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis before the action began, but he remained calm.
“It was very cool walking in the arena in front of a lot of people, and it was nice seeing my family and quite a few friends from the team.
“But at the end of the day, I knew I had to wrestle.”
Fisher didn’t get excited, either, early in the season when he was 8-6 through his first 14 matches.
“In the beginning of the year around Christmas break, I had lost a lot of close matches,” he said. “But my losses were against the state champ (Jacob Stevenson of Franklin) twice and to the runner-up (Chase Osborn of Penn) and to the kid who took third (Jackson).”
He said those tough matches prepared him for the state finals.
“It was a combination of our tough schedule that Coach Cooper puts together for us, our good coaching and self-determination.”
Cooper said Fisher took the losses to heart and worked harder.
“More than anything, I think he did so well because he is very coachable,” Cooper said. “He always does the things we ask him to do as a wrestler.
“And I think he wrestled everyone who made the state at 170 except for the fourth-place finisher (Michael Bates of South Bend Washington). We make that schedule hard so they can win those matches at the end of the year.”
After the state meet, Fisher put his wrestling shoes away for good.
“I’m not going to wrestle in college,” said Fisher, who is going to attend Indiana University. “I’ve got other things going on.”
He is a cadet for the Columbus Police Department, and he also competes in archery with his compound bow on a national level.