NEW CASTLE, IN – Alexandria sent THREE wrestlers to the IHSAA Semi-State this past weekend, and all three grapplers had dreams and aspirations of stepping up big for themselves and their teammates, and being able to move on in the State Wrestling Tournament. Well that number is now down to one.
Junior Austin Neal (285 LBS) has been a big surprise for the Tigers all season long. Being new to the program, no one knew what to expect from Neal, but his success has been a breath of fresh air for Alexandria. Neal’s season ended with disappointment Saturday with a first round loss, but the bigger picture for the Tiger junior is that he will have the opportunity to return next season and push himself farther than even he may know that he is capable of.
At 132 LBS, Lincoln Kyle unfortunately will not have the luxury of returning. Kyle grabbed a first round victory, but his stunning over-time loss at Regionals put him in a bad situation when it came to the brackets at Semi-State. In round two, Kyle was one win away from the semi-finals and a State birth. However, to advance, he was forced to face his toughest opponent of the season in No. 1 Ranked Cody LeCount of Perry Meridian HS. Kyle was not able to pull off the upset and saw his dream end. The Tiger Star did go on to grab one more win in the consolation round and bring home a 5th Place Semi-State finish.
Rounding out the Tiger Trio was 138 LB Senior Luke Blanton. Blanton’s season was summed up for me earlier in the year by Alexandria Teacher Greg Kyle who said, “He (Luke) is a man on a mission. I have never seen him more focused on anything than he is on winning a championship this season. I actually feel sorry for any kid who has to get on the mat with him, because it is not going to be pretty.” Well, Kyle was right then, and Blanton continues to devastate anyone gutsy enough to face him. Blanton improved his season record to 48-0 when he grabbed his Semi-State Title by pinning No. 14 Ranked Juwan Bartlett of Lawrence North.
In fact, Blanton’s entire day can be summed up in a single word, “Domination”. Rd. 1 saw him pin Danny Marshall of Roncalli in just 2:40, and Rd. 2 saw him grab another victory pinning Tyler Glenn of Zionsville in just 1:27. Blanton must have gotten a little worn out going into the next round because he was not able to earn a pinfall against No. 4 Ranked Nick Bova of Perry Meridian. Don’t feel too bad for Blanton; he did earn a major decision over Bova 12-2. And then Blanton decided to go home early as he ended his match in the finals quickly defeating Bartlett by pinfall in just 4:29.
A season of domination is the only thing that has been on his mind for quite some time, and now everything will come down to one final weekend. Good Luck Luke as you take your hopes and dreams into the State Finals. Please remember that you have an entire community pulling for you. State Finals will begin on Friday, Feb. 15th.