They dream about this day as soon as they’re old enough to understand it.
They think about today when they’re first starting wrestling as little kids and when they’re in grade school. And they think about it when they’re teenagers near the end of their high school careers. Especially then.
Today is the opening day of the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals, beginning at 6 p.m. in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Today’s winners advance to Saturday’s final day of competition.
Kokomo’s Fletcher Miller has been dialed in for a year, ever since losing the championship match at 220 pounds last year to Lake Central’s Gelen Robinson in a showdown of unbeatens. Both were juniors. Both are back at 220 pounds this season.
“Obviously the plan is to go out and win this year,” Miller said. “It was fun last year getting to go down and making it the first time and everything, but getting runner-up kind of left a little sick taste in my mouth.”
Robinson is unbeaten this season. Miller’s lone loss was to the top-ranked heavyweight. He could wrestle either weight, but with Robinson back at 220, Miller’s decision was made.
“We thought he had as good a shot to win state at heavyweight as we did 220,” Kokomo coach Ryan Wells said. “It was his decision. We let him make the decision on his own and he wanted to go 220 for the simple fact he wanted to wrestle Robinson. He wants another piece of him.”
“That’s the ideal plan, to get my second chance wrestling the same guy,” Miller said. “I wasn’t frustrated when he was wrestling 220, I was pretty excited about it.”
The excitement is running high in the Hinkle household as well as Western’s brother set of senior Dustin and junior Corey are making their first appearances at state. When the Hinkles qualified for state from last Saturday’s Fort Wayne Semistate, It made for an emotional day for the brothers and parents Dan and Bridget.