Jessup, Thornton take 7th, Ratliff 8th at state finals

Columbus East’s Talon Jessup blocks an attempted takedown by Crown Point’s Teigan Newell during the seventh-place match in the 106-pound weight class at Saturday’s Wrestling State Finals at Ford Center in Evansville.

Rob Baker | For The Republic

EVANSVILLE — After all three local state qualifiers won their first-round matches on Friday at the Wrestling State Finals, Saturday didn’t start off well for any of the three.

Columbus East sophomore Talon Jessup and Columbus North junior Justice Thornton and sophomore Asher Ratliff all lost their quarterfinal and first consolation round matches. Jessup and Thornton bounced back to win their seventh-place matches, and Ratliff came away with an eighth-place finish.

Jessup (37-5), ranked eighth at 106 pounds, dropped a 7-3 decision to second-ranked and eventual state runner-up Mason Jones of Lake Central in the quarterfinals and a 6-4 overtime decision to 14th-ranked Mason Goelz of Avon in the consolation round before blanking 13th-ranked Teigan Newell of Crown Point 3-0 for seventh place.

“I wrestled hard, gave it everything I had,” Jessup said. “(Saturday’s first two matches) just didn’t turn out the way I wanted to.”

Thornton (36-4), ranked 13th at 138, was leading his quarterfinal match before fourth-ranked Tony Wood of Jay County scored a takedown with 6 seconds remaining to pull out a 2-1 win. Thornton then dropped a 7-2 decision to 11th-ranked Chase Stephens of Tell City before pinning Jaylen Covington of Pendleton Heights just before the final buzzer in the seventh-place match.

“It feels great, honestly,” Thornton said. “It’s what I’ve been working toward my whole life. I’ve always been wanting to have a medal from high school state. The way it builds confidence is… I’m out here wrestling the best of the best, and we’re top eight in the state. That means a lot, honestly.”

Ratliff (40-5), ranked ninth at 157, lost a 6-3 decision to 12th-ranked Aidan Kincaide of Noblesville in the quarterfinals and was pinned in 4:07 by fourth-ranked Silas Foster of Purdue Polytechnic. Ratliff then dropped a 10-1 major decision in the seventh-place match to sixth-ranked Silas Stits of Center Grove, who Ratliff had beaten in last week’s semistate final.

This year’s state finals were held for the first time at Ford Center in Evansville because of NBA All-Star events taking place in and around Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, which normally hosts the state finals.

“It’s invaluable,” Ratliff said. “Coming here, getting this experience and feeling this crowd and the competition drives me forward. Now we know what we’ve got to do to get under the lights (for championship matches) next year. This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid. It’s a cool environment.”