IN winning sectional and regional championships at 182 pounds, Columbus North junior Luke Teague ran over some of the competition with his strength and toughness.
Today, though, at the Evansville Reitz Semi-State Tournament that begins at 9 a.m. at the Ford Center, Teague knows that it will take much more.
“If you make a mistake against a good kid, he will capitalize,” said Teague, whose 29-16 record points to the fact that he has made some mistakes along the way.
“I definitely feel I am wrestling smarter now,” Teague said.
He showed that in the finals of the Jeffersonville Regional as he blanked Jennings County sophomore Dakota Bott 4-0. Opponents are finding it very tough to score against him.
Today, Teague draws Jasper sophomore Ian Songer (28-8) in the opening round. If he gets past Songer, Teague faces the winner between Brownsburg’s Connor Ludwig (31-7) and Evansville North’s Duvante Lane (35-2). The top four wrestlers in each class earn a coveted berth in the state tournament and in order to qualify they must win their first two matches.
Teague will be a considerable underdog to qualify. “I think I have a good chance at an upset,” he said. “I kind of like being an underdog. No one is looking at you to win.”
With exceptional athletic skills, Teague divides his time between wrestling and football. Wrestling since he was 5 years old for the North Wrestling Club, he had a lot of success in elementary and middle school years. He was 17-2 his eighth-grade season.
But in ninth grade, he broke a vertebrae in his back and had to wear a brace. He was limited to junior varsity competition.
As a sophomore, he went 20-15 and placed third in the sectional, eventually losing in the first round of the regional tournament.
And even though he spent the summer working on his football skills — he is a starting linebacker for the Bull Dogs — he is now a sectional and regional champion.
“Things just started clicking,” Teague said. “I started to believe in myself more.”
Teague is one of 21 area wrestlers who will be trying to finish in the top four today.
He is one of four local regional champions. The others are Columbus East’s Mitch Gilbert (132), Mike Wayant (145) and Jimmy Fisher (170).
Gilbert (34-8) might have the toughest road as he is due to meet Franklin’s Skyler Lykins (32-1) in the second round.
Wayant (39-6) faces Terre Haute South’s Ian Newton (33-10) in the first round and the winner of Martinsville’s Seth Ferguson (21-8) and Evansville Mater Dei’s Logan Weinzapfel (24-9) in the second round.
Fisher (28-8) faces Terre Haute South’s Duane Deerwester (32-12) in the opening round and has a possible match against the winner of Tecumseh’s Corbin Wira (42-8) and Avon’s Evan Elmore (27-9) in the second round.
Among the rest of the local wrestlers, it would appear East’s Kyle Stillinger (152) has the best chance to advance. Stillinger (33-6) drew Terre Haute North’s Tyler Gilmor (31-8) in the first round and could be headed for a match against the winner of Mater Dei’s Ashton Forzley (24-7) and Center Grove’s Mathew Kelly (26-18).