Peru’s Evan Loe has traveled this road before. The junior wrestled at state last year, losing an opening-round match on Friday. It’s not something he shook off easily.
“Last year, it was really devastating to lose my Friday night match,” said Loe. “It makes me want to work that much harder to get back to it this year.”
Loe is back this year, up a weight class at 138 pounds. He’ll take his 43-3 record against Merrillville junior Isaac Rentas (32-11). The experience of last year’s trip to state not only fuels Loe, it should help him concentrate on what he has to do this season. His experience would help any wrestler stepping out on the floor of Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the first time.
“Imagine no one else is in the place, because if you look up, it’s everyone around you and it’s nerve-wracking,” Loe said. “Just imagine it’s you and that guy in the spotlight, and no one else is watching. Wrestle your heart out and never stop.”
Loe will join fellow Miami County wrestler Chase Wilson of Maconaquah at state, as well as Kokomo’s Andrew Ledford and Fletcher Miller, and Clinton Central’s Jeffrey Scott.
Another advantage for Loe, besides state experience, is his familiarity with the field at 138 pounds. Peru coach Andy Hobbs said Loe has faced most of the field in high school or off-season competition. He faced Rentas in the fall of 2012.
“I wrestled him in a preseason tournament and I beat him up pretty good, but I heard he’s gotten a lot better and he’ll probably put up a good fight,” Loe said.
“Since I’ve wrestled the No. 1 guy twice and the No. 3 guy, I know how they wrestle, I know what I have to do to beat them, I just have to get it in my head that I can beat them.”