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Sportsmanship at center of wrestling circle

Sportsmanship at center of wrestling circle
Sportsmanship at center of wrestling circle
Corydon Central's Bailey LaHue looks for the upperhand early against the top ranked wrestler at 120 pounds, New Palestine's Chad Red in the quarterfinal. LaHue would reaggravate a knee injury during the match. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

The goal and ambition of Corydon Central’s Bailey LaHue is obvious. He wants to stand at the top of the podium at the state wrestling finals.
For the third consecutive year, LaHue reached the podium at state, but the storyline was both painful and gratuitous.
In Friday’s opening round, LaHue won his match against Hammond Morton’s Ruben Rodriguez 3-1 in the 120-pound bracket, but it had consequences. LaHue injured his knee but utilized treatment Saturday morning to take on No. 1-ranked Chad Red from New Palestine in the quarterfinal.
Ranked No. 2, LaHue had a strategy to win, but the injury to his knee was too much to overcome. Red, who would go on to win his second state title, pinned LaHue in the second period at the 3:33 mark.
‘He had a plan,’ Corydon Central coach Richard Clipp said. ‘Until he hit that knee real hard on the mat, he looked pretty good.’
The pain forced LaHue to forfeit what he thought would be his remaining matches. That was until Clipp heard his name announced over the loudspeaker at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to report to the tournament director.
There stood Hobart coach Steve Balash with a proposition that his wrestler, Brendan Black, wanted to voluntarily forfeit to LaHue.
‘He thought Bailey deserved (the win),’ Clipp recalled.
Black was an alternate that made the state field at the last moment then benefited from a forfeit by Danville’s Brock Hudkins, who defeated LaHue in the semi-state championship, to reach Saturday’s action. He would lose his next two matches, setting up a bout with LaHue for seventh place.
‘They were right next to us (in the tunnel) and (Black) was broken-hearted after he got beat,’ Clipp said. ‘He thought since Bailey did win a match that he deserved to be seventh place more than he did. It’s a gesture of sportsmanship. It was pretty nice. It was the kid’s decision; the coach didn’t suggest it.’
Clipp told the Hobart coach that the act was ‘amazing’ but had to go through LaHue first. Although LaHue was embarrassed to be seventh because his sights were set high, he understood the gesture was something you don’t see often in sports.
‘Bailey hobbled out to the middle (of the mat) and the other boy followed him,’ Clipp said. ‘He wanted to shake Bailey’s hand, then (the referee) raised Bailey’s hand. It was pretty bizarre.’
The moment capped a weekend in which the Panthers sent two grapplers to the state tournament, a first for the program. Lightweight Mason Kaufer wasn’t able to advance past Friday’s opening round.
Kaufer (106) lost to New Palestine’s Alec White by technical fall, 19-3, late in the third period.
‘It looked like he was going to get the first take-down and the kid countered it to score,’ Clipp said.
It was the first appearance at state for the Panther sophomore. He finished the season with a 27-7 record. White would go on to place fourth, while Griffith freshman Jeremaih Reitz captured the state title at 106.
‘He was awe-struck,’ Clipp said. ‘It’s a whole lot different being there on the mat than in the crowd along with the pageantry beforehand.’
LaHue’s run to the state meet was quick during the sectional and regional, winning each match by pin. Clipp said the urgency was to get on the mat and get the job done due to LaHue’s shoulders not being 100 percent after offseason surgery.
At semi-state, LaHue battled through what eventually was diagnoses as strep throat to place second.
‘It was amazing what happened at the semi-state,’ Clipp said.
Entering the state meet, LaHue still wanted to reach the top. The injury against Rodriguez during the opening round was a setback. He struggled to get through the bout against Red in the quarterfinal.
‘We were lucky they had a doctor on the floor,’ Clipp said. ‘It was his suggestion that we not continue. He could if he wanted to sustain the pain. We took the doctor to see Bailey’s parents, and the decision was pretty quick.’
LaHue suffered a strained MCL, which will sideline him for six to eight weeks.
The disappointment was there.
‘He had dreams,’ Clipp said. ‘They are realistic, too. Of course, it’s still not over. He’s going to come back.’
‘The disappointment in his face was the pain not of the knee but the pain of not being able to wrestle and prove what he could actually do,’ Clipp said. ‘He’s already saying he can’t wait. He has two guys he wants to beat.’
LaHue finished the season with a 26-3 record, one of the losses by forfeit.
His seventh-place finish at state goes along with his fourth-place showing last year at 120 and fifth as a freshman at 113.
‘We wanted to see him do well,’ Clipp said. ‘I’ve only known him since he was in second or third grade. (Assistant coach) Russell (Kopp) has known him longer than that.’
In the team standings, Indianapolis Cathedral was crowned the state champion with 73 points. Franklin Community was second with 60. Corydon Central was tied for 46th with four points.
Jeffersonville’s lone state qualifier Gavin Jolley-Little (285) won his opening-round match against Muncie Central’s Darrius Connell 3-2 in overtime. The senior would eventually place seventh, beating West Lafayette’s John Duvall 3-2 in the consolation final.
Noah Franklin (106), a freshman from New Washington, lost his opening-round match at state to Indianapolis Cathedral’s Breyden Bailey 6-2. Charlestown’s Brayant Haynes (126) was a late addition to the state field as an alternate but failed to make weight.
Individual results: 106 ‘ J. Reitz (Griffith) dec. P. Konrath (Mt. Vernon) 4-2 OT; 113 ‘ D.J. Smith (Franklin) dec. G. Pepple (East Noble) 5-3; 120 ‘ C. Red (New Palestine) dec. F. Glogouski (Fairfield) 6-2; 126 ‘ Z. Davis (Penn) dec. S. Micic (Hanover Central) 10-5; 132 ‘ D. Wilson (Warren Central) dec. B. James (Perry Meridian) 4-2; 138 ‘ T. Cash (Lawrence North) dec. J. Covaciu (Merrillville) 5-3; 145 ‘ C. LeCount (Perry Meridian) dec. T. Forte (Mishawaka) 3-2; 152 ‘ B. Kelley (Evansville Central) pin D. Schurg (Crown Point) 2:24; 160 ‘ R. Hiestand (Yorktown) dec. V. Corsaro (Ind. Cathedral) 2-1 OT; 170 ‘ J. Stevenson (Franklin) dec. C. Osborn (Penn) 7-3; 182 ‘ D. Chambers (Edgewood) dec. B. Rypel (Ind. Cathedral) 9-8 OT; 195 ‘ K. Moss (Warren Central) dec. B. Wagner (New Palestine) 3-2; 220 ‘ G. Robinson (Lake Central) dec. F. Miller (Kokomo) 9-3; 285 ‘ W. Bernard (Ind. Cathedral) dec. N. Oglesby (Ben Davis) 5-2.