SYRACUSE – After wrestling alongside his brother, Braxton, for so long, Jace Alexander was able to break out and make a name on his own this past season.
The Wawasee junior embarked on a fine campaign, one where he finished at the IHSAA State Finals for a second consecutive season and won a ton of titles along the way.
Alexander went 38-3 on the mats this season. His 2019-20 work started with 22 consecutive wins, but took the disappointment of his first loss, a quarterfinals loss to Chesterton’s Aiden Torres at the Al Smith Classic, and had to regroup a bit. After completing the Northern Lakes Conference round robin season 7-0, Alexander used a forfeit, major decision and 45-second pin in the NLC Championships to claim the 126-pound bracket. He did all of that after having a biopsy procedure on Thursday before the tournament.
His journey was just beginning, so they say.
Three straight pins at the Plymouth Sectional had Alexander needing just 3:47 to win the bracket and help Wawasee to its third straight sectional team title. In both the NLC and sectional finals, Alexander pinned Plymouth’s Dominic Smith.
Alexander then needed just 1:37 combined to score two pins and advance to the Penn Regional final, where he worked a 9-6 decision over Mishawaka’s Brendan Mark.
After scoring two more quick falls to open the East Chicago Semi-state to earn a state berth, Alexander ran into Torres again in the semis. The Chesterton star again worked over Alexander for a pin, but the Wawasee junior rallied by scoring an 8-3 decision over Mark to claim third in the bracket.
After placing sixth in the 120-pound bracket at the IHSAA State Finals as a sophomore, Alexander would come up short in the 126 card, losing in his first match against Warren Central’s David Pierson by a 7-5 decision.
“For the first time in his career, Jace was just able to come out and have fun,” said Wawasee wrestling head coach Frank Bumgardner. “For his first two years, he was learning discipline in weight management as he developed. We had a brief discussion before his junior season about going to 120, and it was not worth it. We just let him go either 126 or 132, and he settled on 126. He was never comfortable jumping back and forth from 132 and 126, so he just stayed at 126 and settled in.”
For the season, Alexander claimed weight class titles at the Wawasee November and December Duals, the Warsaw Invite, the NLC, Plymouth Sectional and Penn Regional.
“He was able to score more points this year as he got more comfortable with himself,” Bumgardner said. “He was very dominant. He doesn’t get rattled. His best performances this year were when he just went out and wrestled and didn’t worry about anything other than just using his talent. The bottom line is, when he goes and wrestles tough, on the bigger stages, he is one of the better wrestlers in the state.”
Alexander also helped the Warrior cross country team make its fourth straight regional tournament appearance.
The team has advanced out of the sectional with top-five team finishes in each of Alexander’s three years with the team. His time of 17:54 at the Elkhart Sectional was huge as Wawasee escaped with the fifth team position to keep its team streak alive. Alexander was 31st overall in the sectional standings.
Alexander clocked postseason times of 18:17, 17:54 and 18:21 in each of the NLC, sectional and regional runs for the Warriors before the team ran out of season opportunities in its regional placing of tenth overall.
“He ran his best race of the season at the sectional when it mattered the most,” said Wawasee boys cross country head coach Chad Hoffert. “He had to overcome some obstacles from a tough start to his season.”
Editor’s Note: Alexander did not return comment for this story.