Laying Down the Law / East freshman has overcome illness, injury to reach state finals

When 16 145-pounders take the mat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in tonight’s first round of the Wrestling State Finals, Kade Law will be the lone freshman.

That the Columbus East rookie even made it back to compete at the regional level was a testament to his toughness.

After winning a sectional title, Law was kneed in the face the week leading up to the Jeffersonville Regional and suffered a broken nose. But that didn’t stop him from winning a regional crown while wearing a protective mask.

“At first, it was really tough because I had a hard time seeing,” Law said. “There’s some disadvantages to it and some advantages. I definitely think it will help me.”

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Four days after that regional meet, Law underwent surgery to repair the nose.

“They basically described it as putting a puzzle in place,” Law said. “They just kind of move it around until it fits just right.”

On Saturday, three days after undergoing surgery to repair the nose, Law won his first two matches in the Evansville Reitz Semistate to clinch a state berth. He dropped his semifinal match in overtime and his third-place match by a 6-4 decision to finish fourth.

Law became the third freshman in East wrestling history to qualify for state, joining Kyle Cooper and Graham Rooks.

“He’s wrestled better with the mask on,” East coach Chris Cooper said. “He hasn’t let that affect him at all. I think his mental toughness has grown by leaps and bounds in the last month or two.”

Law’s high school wrestling career got off to a little bit of a rough start. He suffers from asthma, and that was getting the best of him in his first few matches.

After that, Law went to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis a few times for tests. Doctors changed medicine and gave him a new inhaler.

“He came off the mat a couple times and said, ‘Coach, it feels like there’s a plastic bag over my head when I’m trying to breathe out there,’” Cooper said. “He really let those things early on in the season get to him and take him out of his game. He had a little rough patch at the beginning of the season and wasn’t wrestling his best, but he definitely got to where he’s wrestling his best of the season. I think it’s mental focus more than anything else.”

Law finished second in the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament, falling to Floyd Central’s seventh-ranked Jonathan Kervin in the final. Three of Law’s losses this season are to Kervin, including in Saturday’s third-place semistate match.

Sectional and regional titles did wonders in restoring Law’s confidence.

“Around conference time, I started feeling good again,” Law said. “Before that, I kind of lost hope. But I really turned it on and kind of flipped the switch, and then I really knew. I saw who I was going to wrestle (at semistate), and I kind of expected to go to state.”

Tonight, Law (28-12) will face a tough test in 16th-ranked Adams Central senior Logan Macklin (29-13). The winner is assured of three matches on Saturday and a state medal for a top-eight finish.

Law is no stranger to the big stage. He is a two-time youth All-American and finished third at the middle school state finals while competing for Jennings County.

Although the beginning of his season didn’t go the way he wanted, Law has found his game as it winds to a close.

“I think I had a rough start to it, and I just kept working every day in the practice room,” Law said. “I had good partners and good coaches. I just came back around conference time and felt pretty good. I came into semistate pretty prepared. One hundred percent, I’ve gotten better throughout the season.”

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Wrestling State Finals

When: 6 p.m. today (first round); 9:30 a.m. Saturday (quarterfinals, followed by semifinals); 5 p.m. Saturday (third-, fifth- and seventh-place matches); 7:30 p.m. Saturday (championship matches)

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

Admission: $8 per session or $20 for all sessions

Local competitors: Columbus East’s Cayden Rooks (138 pounds), Kade Law (145), Jake Schoenegge (152), Nick South (170) and Jacob Bolte (220)