By TIM CREASON
INDIANAPOLIS – So far, so good for Warsaw’s Kyle Hatch and Wawasee’s Braxton Alexander.
Each won his first round match Friday night at the 79th annual IHSAA state wrestling finals.
Now, it’s on to the quarterfinals when the tournament resumes 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“I didn’t really have a lot of nerves going. I was just trying to have fun with it,” said Hatch, who pinned Tucker Schank of Southridge in 2:25.
“I never saw (Schank) before. I didn’t know anything about him,” said Hatch, a senior who now stands 48-0 on the season.
“I didn’t do any film study or anything like that,” added the Tiger standout, who is making his third trip to the state meet. “At this point, I’m just wrestling my own match. I don’t really care what anybody else does.”
It’s a somewhat similar story for Alexander, who says he wrestled his own match, but also said he wasn’t very happy with it.
The Wawasee sophomore beat Homestead’s Blaigh Rushing, 3-0, in a battle that was close from start to finish.
“I won’t get anywhere if I keep wrestling like that,” said Alexander, now 41-4. “I don’t know, maybe I was too ready. I just know I didn’t wrestle as well as I should have.”
Alexander scored his points on a second-period escape and takedown, then held on through a wild third period.
“I just had to grind on top and ride him out,” he said.
Alexander, in his first trip to state, next meets Cayden Rooks of Columbus East (43-1).
Hatch will be paired against Hunter Reed of Columbia City in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Other local wrestlers picking up first-round wins Friday night included David Eli (195), Christian Mejia (120) and Tristan Goering (170) of Elkhart Memorial, Conner Graber (182) of Northridge, Xander Stroud (145) of Elkhart Central, Hunter Watts (113) and Kenny Kerrn (152) of Jimtown and Kory Cavanaugh (113) and Jarod Swank (170) of Penn.
Brownsburg was the early leader in the team chase with 21 points, while East Chicago semistate champion Chesterton, Indianapolis Cathedral and Portage each have 15.