One Last Shot

One Last Shot

By Jackson Teal

The long, winding road is coming to an end in Evansville, Ind.

Six Delta wrestlers will make the 250-mile trip for the IHSAA State Finals on Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 17.

It will be a longer drive than usual because Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the finals are usually held, will be occupied by the NBA All-Star events.  The finals instead will be at the Ford Center in Evansville.

Even longer than the road trip this year has been the journey to get there.

One senior, Neal Mosier (36-3 at 126 pounds), has been a part of Delta Wrestling since kindergarten. 

Experience like that makes him and his teammates no stranger to this time of the year.

Neal Mosier
Neal Mosier will wrestle in his third consecutive IHSAA State Finals.

“Ever since I was little I would go watch the state finals with my family and picture myself down there winning a title,¨ Mosier said.

He has progressed from being just a young kid looking up to the seniors at the time to now leading by example to not only his younger teammates but also his little brother Sam, who is a freshman varsity wrestler.

“Hard work pays off,” Sam Mosier said. “He wasn’t very good to start off with and neither was I, but you can see where we both are now and I think it kind of speaks for itself.”

Neal has racked up two state placements. In his sophomore season he placed sixth and in his junior year he placed fourth.

“This season I plan to climb even more and try to win the whole thing,” he said.

Wrestlers have to win one match on Friday night to advance into the second day of the state tournament and earn a medal.

Mosier will be squaring off with the champion of the East Chicago semi-state to advance into the top eight.

The other senior who punched his ticket to state is 175-pounder Braxton Russell (37-2).

He finished eighth at state last year with one of his losses being to Kyle Harden of Cathedral. This year his first-round matchup is the same guy. 

Braxton Russell
Braxton Russell hopes to avenge a loss from a year ago in the State meet.

“The kid beat me last year so I’m excited to get my get-back,” Russell said. “I’m going to put him out on Friday night so he can’t place.”

Russell, who began wrestling in sixth grade, is at state for the third time and is leaning on his state experience.

“’I know what to expect when I go down there,” Russell said. “It’s obviously in a different place this year, but it’ll still be the same feeling.”

Another wrestler with state finals experience is undefeated 113-pound junior Ayden Bollinger (39-0).

Ayden Bollinger
Ayden Bollinger is one of two Eagles who are unbeaten at 39-0 for the season.

Bollinger also will have a redemption match versus an opponent ranked number 1 in the state who beat him last year. 

He’s tuning out all the noise from people saying he can’t do it.

“I know I have the skills and I know I can get it done week in and week out,” Bollinger said.

Also undefeated is freshmen Jensen Boyd (39-0 at 106 pounds). Although this is Boyd’s first time in the tournament he is not coming in as an underdog story.

Jensen Boyd action
Jensen Boyd enters the State meet as the top-ranked wrestler in the 106 class.

He is projected to win a title being ranked number 1 in the state. Boyd could become the Eagles’ first individual state champion since Jacob Gray in 2017.

Last weekend at the Fort Wayne Coliseum, Boyd was crowned semi-state champion.

He won with an exclamation point by scoring a technical fall (winning by 15 or more points) over his opponent in the final match.

“I have a mindset to respect all of my opponents but fear none of them,” Boyd said.

This will be sophomore Kaid Jackson’s first appearance at state as well. He enters with a 33-7 record in the 120-pound weight division. 

Kaid Jackson
Kaid Jackson will be wrestling in the State meet for the first time.

In Jackson’s placement match he will face off with a Greenfield-Central opponent he took a loss to earlier in the season at the Rex Leavitt Invite.

“Going in I know I’m the underdog but I’m not going to let that affect me,” Jackson said. “I know all I can do is go out there and wrestle my match.”

The Eagles’ sixth state finalist is 165-pounder junior Kaeb Stebbins (37-2), who will be making his state finals debut.

Kaeb Stebbins
Kaeb Stebbins hopes to continue his outstanding season with a good showing at the State meet.

”They may have a slight edge having been there before, but I don’t fear that or anything coming this weekend. I embrace it,” Stebbins said.” I’m ready to wrestle my match and do the best I can.”

Although all the wrestlers have different matchups, different weight classes and different seeds each of the six strive for the same outcome.

”We want to win whatever it takes,” Russell said. “It’s what we put all the work in for to go out there and win.”

Third-year Head Coach Cody LeCount and the other members of the Eagle coaching staff are preparing the wrestlers to go out there and do what they do best at the Ford Center. 

This year the team has won the regional for the first time in 28 years and the semi-state for the first time in 33 years.

“Everyone goes into the season with different goals, small goals, big goals,” LeCount said. “It’s a long season so whatever I can do to help the kids accomplish them, it doesn’t matter whether it’s being a semi-state qualifier or a state placer.”

In LeCount’s first season they placed 42nd at state. They made a big stride in their placement finishing 10th at state last year in his second season. 

Cody LeCount coaching
Cody LeCount shows his passion during a semi-state match at the Fort Wayne Coliseum.

Coming in as 2A dual state champions, the Eagles hope to improve their finish at this tournament, which includes all four classes.

“When I took over as head coach I saw a lot of raw talent,” LeCount said. “I was able to touch into them on a personal, technical and mental level.”





February 15, 2024

About Author

Jackson Teal

jacksonteal Jackson Teal is a freshman at Delta High School. This is his first year in journalism. Jackson wrestles and likes hanging out with his friends. His dream college is Notre Dame.


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