GREENWOOD, IN—As the final tenths of a second rolled off the timer at Center Grove High School Saturday afternoon, a mammoth of a boy in Perry Meridian Junior Donte Winfield gleefully fist-pumped his chest as the victor in his 285-pound heavyweight match. In his match, Winfield was an unmovable force of nature, powering his way past Crown Point's Josh Swope by the final of 7-2. On that day, at that moment, there was no single person who could have stopped Winfield during his bout, and even his celebration.
But there was one single force that could get the job done.
"Being the last team titlist during the team tournament, I'm sad to see it go," said Perry Meridian Head Coach Jake Tonte.
"It has been a big reason as to why we have been successful. And we'll continue to do the same things we have always done. But we truly believe in team from top to bottom. It shows with the way the kids wrestle for each other."
Saturday couldn't have started off any better for the Falcons in the championship match. Though small in stature, Perry Meridian Sophomore Jacob Cottey definitely doesn't lack in heart, skill, and strength, defeating Crown Point Junior Brett Ervin by pinfall at the 3:05 mark in the 106 pound opening bout. Cottey held down Ervin's left-arm and then reached over with his right to pull Ervin's shoulders down to the mat, essentially performing a chicken-wing on the Bulldog, and set the tempo for the remainder of the match.
"I knew I needed to get the pin for the team," said Cottey. "I knew I was much better than that kid, and I did what I needed to do."
"It was huge," said Tonte. "In these types of dual-meets, motivation and getting momentum for these types of meets are huge. Momentum is big, and that gave us the momentum."
The ball was now rolling for the Falcons faithful, who could be heard loud and clear every single bout, and had many reasons to cheer. Perry Meridian took five of the first six matches, including IHSAA 132-Individual Champion in Falcons Senior Perry Meridian dominating Cameron Halsted by a 25-10 technical fault victory.
Many Perry Meridian's athletes to follow, ranging from Junior Jake Masengale's 1:29 pinfall of Dustin Schurg in the 170 pound division or Senior CJ Martin's overwhelmingly impressive 9-1 victory over Jacob Hazi at the 182 mark, had great performances. The boy victorious at the 160-pound mark in Senior Kirk Johnson, who shut-out Senior Jake Fugua 5-0 in a decision, was near speechless at what the team was able to accomplish.
"To go out as the last team champions," said Johnson as he took a moment to soak in the moment. "Is really astonishing, you know. It's amazing."
Johnson couldn't have said the words any better. It is amazing what Perry Meridian was able to accomplish, as individuals, and as a group, on the last time a team-formatted tournament will be used to hand out the gigantic State-championship trophy in the sport of wrestling.
"We kind of had this song 'Count on Me', and they counted on each other throughout the tournament," said Tonte. "And they have all year. I think our closest dual-meet was twenty-something, and I just can't say enough about how these kids have battled since day one."
Here are the full championship results: Perry Meridian 43, Crown Point 14
106 Jacob Cottey, 10, (PM), def. Brett Ervin, 11, (CP), Fall (3:05).
113 Brandon James, 9, (PM), def. Darden Schurg, 9, (CP), Dec. 13-10.
120 Joshua Fuqua, 10, (CP), def. Aiden Kenny, 10, (PM), Dec. 3-2.
126 Cody LeCount, 10, (PM), def. Trevor Burlison, 10, (CP), Dec. 8-4.
132 Jared McKinley, 12, (PM), def. Cameron Halsted, 12, (CP), TF 25-10 (5:10).
138 Nick Bova, 11, (PM), def. Tyler Burlison, 11, (CP), Fall (0:55).
145 Jason Tsirtsis, 12, (CP), def. Riley McClurg, 11, (PM), Tech. Fall 19-4 (4:56)
152 Paul Matthews, 11, (PM), def. Trevor Blue, 12, (CP), Maj. Dec. 9-1.
160 Kirk Johnson, 12, (PM), def. Jake Fuqua, 12, (CP), Dec. 5-0.
170 Jake Masengale, 11, (PM), def. Dustin Schurg, 11, (CP), Fall (1:29).
182 CJ Martin, 12, (PM), def. Jacob Hazi, 11, (CP), Maj. Dec. 9-1.
195 Matt Langbehn, 11, (CP), def. Devante Ash, 12, (PM), Dec. 10-4.
220 Tyler Kral, 12, (CP), def. Jordan Naughton, 12, (PM), Dec. 7-0.
285 Donte Winfield, 11, (PM), def. Josh Swope, 12, (CP), Dec. 7-2.