The Greensburg wrestling program begins the season this weekend with most of the wrestlers who made deep runs in last year’s state tournament.
“On a positive note, most of the guys returning are experienced,” said third-year head coach Matt Cochran. “We’re carrying high expectations for those guys. I’m happy with how we’re practicing and how hard the kids are working. Our team slogan is ‘committed’ – committing to themselves every day to reach their individual goals.”
The Pirate grapplers begin the season Saturday at the Rushville Varsity Invitational, with weigh-in at 8 a.m. The junior varsity squad will compete in the Charlestown Invitational.
Graduating in the spring were Dillen Swango, Cody Black and Josh Chase.
“Dillen won a lot of matches,” said Cochran of the semi-state qualifier. “Josh Chase did a nice job filling in.”
However, Cochran noted that the Pirates lack depth in the lineup.
“That’s always something that’s tough to overcome,” he said. The football team’s advancement to the regionals posed both a challenge and benefit to the wrestling team. Although it limited the wrestlers who played football to one week of practice, Cochran welcomed them to “bring that winning attitude” to the practice room and mats. He said the youth of last season and the “many holes in the lineup” will be replaced this season by experience and a more competitive atmosphere.
“The effort in the room is obvious, and the intensity in the practice room is much higher than in the past seasons,” he said. “That’s a result of kids believing in themselves and having higher expectations.”
Juniors Matt Scheumann and Colten Black return as semi-state qualifiers, while junior Drew Neisius is a regional qualifier. Junior Joel Chase won a conference championship.
“The nice thing is, kids coming back do have experience, and that will make our team stronger,” said Cochran.
Senior Justin Dance is returning to start for a fourth year.
Freshman Brandon Butz will wrestle at 113 pounds Saturday.
“He has a lot of wrestling experience,” said Cochran. “He will have a great season.”
Sophomore Jordan Smiley will wrestle at 126 pounds. Cochran called him an athletic wrestler.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do,” he said.
Senior Edgar Cruz, who wrestled two years ago, returns to compete at 138 pounds.
“He’s very strong and very fast,” said Cochran of Cruz, a standout soccer player. “He will be tough to beat.”
Cochran said he has high expectations for junior Joel Chase at 145 pounds. Chase won an EIAC championship last year.
Another freshman, Dakota Deiwert, will occupy the 152-pound spot.
“He had a very good junior high career,” said Cochran. “That’s a tough weight class for a freshman to start into, but he’s a good, solid wrestler. He’ll have a pretty good season.”
Joe Buening, another soccer player, will compete in his second season at the number-one spot in the 160-pound class.
“He’s looking to get back to strength and looking confident,” said Cochran. “He should have a good, bounce-back season.”
Cochran said Dance, a fourth-year starter, will wrestle at 170 pounds and has “a ton of experience wrestling.”
Senior John Cook will wrestle at 182 pounds after having a good junior year. Colten Black is also slotted at 182 and is overcoming an injury. Cook is in the third year in the program and looks forward to taking advantage of the chance to start.
“He’s worked extremely hard and is excited to get this varsity opportunity,” said Cochran of Cook.
Neisius, a regional qualifier, will compete at 195 pounds. Neisius participated in a month-long wrestling camp at the University of Minnesota.
“That’s definitely a big part of the improvement we see from him,” said Cochran of one of the best camps in the nation. “He’s really dedicated himself to the sport. He’s confident and has high expectations.”
Freshman Doug Cain at 220 pounds wrestled for a long time and is competing in a tough weight class to start in.
Scheumann, according to Cochran, is planning to wrestle at 220 pounds after working off football weight. He won a close 4-3 challenge match over Nathan Hayes, a junior varsity wrestler last year. Cochran said Hayes will wrestle at 285 when Scheumann moves to 220.
Junior Adam Budinsky, another soccer player, is a foreign exchange student trying out for the first time.
Seniors Derek McIntyre and Shane Oakes are also first-time wrestlers.
"I’m happy to see that,” said Cochran. “We’re definitely happy to have them on the team.”
Three others – freshman Jose Rosales, sophomore Curtis Cronin and junior Logan Combs – are coming out to wrestle for the first time.
“I’m encouraged that they’ve come out,” said Cochran. “We’ll have them ready to wrestle for the Greensburg JV Tournament Dec. 1.”
Senior Chaz Smiley will also be in the mix.
According to Cochran, each individual brings his own goals into the season.
“Experienced wrestlers should have high expectations for where they want to go as individuals,” he said. “For first-year wrestlers, goals need to be challenging yet attainable. We have guys who can have really high expectations for this year to go far.”
Greensburg looks forward to competing for a championship in the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference after finishing fourth last year.
“As a team, we are going to be better,” said Cochran. “South Dearborn and East Central have been the class of the conference for a long time. We should be closing the gap this year and competing for that conference championship.”
Cochran said the Pirates also aim to win several tournaments on the schedule.
“We can circle some of these tournaments and say, ‘Let’s go win these tournaments,’” he said.
A sectional realignment took place this past offseason. Greensburg moved out of the Franklin County/South Dearborn sectional and now will compete at Jennings County. Greensburg is now in the Jeffersonville Regional instead of Richmond. The semi-state will now take place at Evansville.
Also, the IHSAA eliminated the team state tournament. Wrestlers will now compete for individual state championships.
Coaching Greensburg wrestling are assistant varsity coach Terry Dance, JV coach Derek Cornn, assistant JV coach Curtis Nieman, junior high head coach Greg Scudder, assistant junior high coach Josh Teague and elementary head coach Jamie Cain.
Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.