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Crown Point Wrestlers go Back-to-Back

Rich Torres, Special to
Posted: February 18, 2023
2022-23 Crown Point Team Photo
Photo Credit: Double Edge Media @demllc

The defending champion Crown Point Bulldogs had two goals heading into the 85th annual Indiana High School Athletic Association wrestling state finals in downtown Indianapolis this weekend.

They achieved both in dominating fashion inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse, claiming both a program-record four individual weight class championships and a second straight wrestling team title with 167.0 points.

Center Grove finished second with 131.0 points, followed by Brownsburg at 129.5 and Warren Central in fourth.

The Bulldogs’ third state wrestling team title in program history (2009, 2022, 2023) was spearheaded by a quartet of champions in senior Sam Goin (39-2) at 160 pounds, senior Cody Goodwin (25-4) at 170, senior Orlando Cruz (35-2) at 182 and junior Will Clark (38-3) at 220.

“Just an incredible night for our guys,” Crown Point head coach Branden Lorek said. “In the medal rounds and in the finals, we had nine places and they all won.

“We talk about fun a lot. If we’re not having fun, then what’s the point? Wrestling is fun for them. It’s hard work, but they have fun together. They win and lose together, and they love each other. We always want them to focus on having fun.”

When the Bulldogs are enjoying the moment, they thrive, and it was necessary with 11 state qualifiers compared to a state-record 12 for Center Grove, which had eight wrestlers medal and one win it all in 113-pounder junior Charlie LaRocca (42-2).

Center Grove advanced five wrestlers into the championship finals with eight place-winners overall, but Crown Point finished a perfect 4-for-4 under the finals’ spotlight to keep the team title in Northwest Indiana.

“It’s historic for us. We’ve never won a back-to-back title in wrestling, and we’re only the second team in our school history to win back-to-back titles,” Lorek said. “At the end of the day, you come down to Indy, and this means a lot to our area.”

Crown Point is the first program to win multiple team titles consecutively since Indianapolis Cathedral won three straight from 2018-2020.

“We wanted to repeat and dominate, but some of our kids fell off and we had some tough losses. Our upper guys were like, we have to come through,” said Goin, an Indiana University commit. “We were all pumped up because we had to pick up the slack, which was cool.”

Goin kicked off the Bulldogs’ run of three straight weight-class wins with the championship round’s first pin in 1 minute, 30 seconds. Goin, an Indiana University commit, secured this second-career title after winning the 152-pound championship last year.

“Our coaches were nervous, but as a wrestler, we didn’t think they were as tough as we were,” Goin said. “We knew we could put more guys at higher placements than they had, and the matchups helped in the team race, too.”

Sam Goin of Crown Point
Crown Point's Sam Goin won his second consecutive state championship Saturday night in the 160 pound class. (Photo courtesy Double Edge Media @demllc)


Goodwin’s upset 2-1 decision over top-ranked Delaney Ruhlman (40-1), pushed the margin more before top-ranked Cruz won by decision 5-4 against second-ranked De’Alcapon Veazy (41-2) at 182.

Clark’s pin in 1:48 over McCutcheon’s Cole Chicione (40-4) locked down the team title and the Bulldogs’ dominance.

“We took some hard losses, but we wanted to keep these guys motivated. We wanted to win this title for our team and for all the boys,” Lorek said. “It’s been a challenging year, and we knew trying to repeat is hard. Until you have to do it, you don’t realize how hard it is.”

First-Timers Club

The time was now for Roncalli senior Bryce Lowery. A three-time state place-winner prior, Lowery (44-0) won his first-ever state championship at 152 with a 3-1 decision over Evansville Mater Dei’s Hunter May (39-2).

Lowery placed fifth at 138 in 2022, seventh at 126 in 2021 and fourth at 106 in 2020.

The Indiana University recruit is ranked nationally and joined his older brother Brayden Lowery, a 2020 state champion at 126, as one of the state’s best.

I’m just glad I got it done. Long time coming. I was hungrier than I’d ever been,” Lowery said. “Coming back in the back hallway, breaking down crying every year, just knowing you aren’t getting your goal that year. It eats at you. You’re training with that image in your mind. You’re training with that image of you in that back corner and your head on the ground balling. I trained with that intensity to make sure I did everything within my power to make sure that never happened again.”

Brownsburg 106-pound freshman Revin Dickman (41-5) kicked off Saturday night’s championship finals by defeating Hoosier Crossroads Conference foe and fellow freshman Nathan Rioux (39-6) of Avon by decision 3-0. The meeting marked the duo’s sixth of the season.

Brownsburg’s third weight-class title went to senior Leighton Jones (37-5). The top-ranked 285-pounder won the first state championship in his career by decision 7-2 over Evansville Reitz Memorial’s Kelton Farmer (39-2) for his 145th career victory.

Center Grove’s LaRocca won his first-career state title at 113, defeating Indian Creek’s Jackson Heaston by decision 3-1. The two also met during the Evansville Semistate finals the week prior with LaRocca winning by decision 8-2.

New Castle freshman Tylin Thrine made history by claiming the 126-pound state crown. Thrine pulled off the upset in the semifinal round Saturday by upending top-ranked and former state champion Logan Frazier of Crown Point with a 4-3 decision. Frazier, a senior, was a four-time state place-winner.

Thrine’s 5-2 decision in the finals against Center Grove’s Hyatt Yeager (35-9) capped a perfect 42-0 season, a first in New Castle wrestling history. Thrine is the third state champion in program history and first since 1994-95.

Castle’s top-ranked senior John Purdy (44-1) locked down his first title with a 4-0 decision over Center Grove’s Kaden McConnell (40-4) in the 195 finals.

Defending The Title

Brownsburg’s Jake Hockaday (25-12) won his second straight state title. The sophomore was the 106-pound champion last year, and he finished as the 126-pound title holder with the upset over top-ranked LaPorte senior Ashton Jackson (53-1), a Purdue commit, in the finals by decision 6-3.

Jackson was shooting for his third straight weight-class championship, but a four-point flurry in the first period put Hockaday in control.

Jake Hockaday of Brownsburg
In a battle of state champions, Brownsburg's Jake Hockaday (left) bested LaPorte's Ashton Jackson for the 120 pound state title. (Photo courtesy Double Edge Media @demllc)


Perfect Season

Whiteland senior Joey Buttler (45-0) capped his perfect season by winning the 132 weight-class title with a 6-3 decision over Brownsburg’s Brady Ison (29-6). The two met in the regional and semistate finals prior with Buttler, an Indiana University commit, winning both matches.

Chesterton’s Aiden Torres completed his perfect season with a record of 52-0 by winning the 145 weight-class title. Torres, an IU commit, was third at 145 in 2022, and won by major decision 11-2 in the finals their year over Center Grove’s Wyatt Krejsa (20-1).

Making History

Kankakee Valley senior Cole Solomey (48-1) made program history by becoming the school’s first wrestling state champion. Solomey, a Purdue recruit, defeated Center Grove’s Reese Courtney (36-9) by decision 6-2 in the 138 finals.

“Honestly, the best anyone had done in school history before me was fifth, and last year I broke that record and was state runner-up. This year, it meant everything to me. This is all I wanted. To be our first-ever state champion,” Solomey said.

Solomey is a four-time state-place winner, finishing second at 138 in 2022, sixth at 132 in 2021 and seventh at 120 in 2020.

Last State Finals for Long-Time Announcer Kevin Whitehead

This weekend’s 85th Annual IHSAA Wrestling State Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse will be the last event for long-time announcer Kevin Whitehead who has decided to retire.

The memorable voice you hear on the public address microphone has been part of this great tournament for 42 years.

The 1974 Franklin Central High School and 1977 Indiana State University graduate, who lives in Louisville, began working the IHSAA State Finals when the tournament first moved to Market Square Arena in 1981. He was responsible for keeping the team scoring that first year. The following year, he introduced the finalists and the championship round and then became the full-time announcer in 1983. 

During his time on the microphone, Whitehead has been witness to so many great individual performances, including calling matches for wrestlers who would go on to win NCAA titles and other national achievements. He’s seen the participation numbers in the sport wildly increase and the list of four-time champions grow from four to 10!
In addition to this annual event, Whitehead served as announcer for 11 team state finals events from 1996-2006 and the 2019 Girls State Championship Tournament as well as many years calling the action at the New Castle and Evansville Semi-States.

In 2000, he announced the Big Ten Championships at Purdue University and was the assistant announcer for the 2003 Team USA Championships at the Expo Center in 2003. 

During the 2023 state tournament, Whitehead will surpass 10,000 matches announced for his career. 

“When I first had the honor of taking the microphone for the championship round in 1982, I could never have imagined the journey that was about to begin,” he said. “It has truly been the privilege of a lifetime to be associated not only with the IHSAA, but with the tournament, wrestlers, coaches, tournament workers, and fans for over four decades. My thanks to everyone who has been a part of this journey with me over these many years.”

On behalf of the 407 member schools across the state of Indiana, the IHSAA would like express its thanks and gratitude to Kevin Whitehead for his more than four decades of dedicated service to Indiana high school athletics.

85th Annual IHSAA Wrestling State Finals
Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Feb. 17-18, 2023

Final Results 

Top 10 Team Standings


1. Crown Point


2. Center Grove


3. Brownsburg


4. Warren Central


5. New Castle


6. Evansville Mater Dei


7. Roncalli


8. Bloomington South


9. Avon


10. Delta


State Championship Results
106: Revin Dickman (9) Brownsburg (41-5) def. Nathan Rioux (9) Avon (39-6) 3-0
113: Charlie LaRocca (11) Center Grove (42-2) def. Jackson Heaston (12) Indian Creek (36-5) 3-1
120: Jake Hockaday (10) Brownsburg (33-4) def. Ashton Jackson (12) LaPorte (53-1) 6-3
126: Tylin Thrine (9) New Castle (42-0) def. Hyatt Yeager (12) Center Grove (35-9) 5-3
132: Joey Buttler (12) Whiteland Community (45-0) def. Brady Ison (11) Brownsburg (29-6) 6-3
138: Cole Solomey (12) Kankakee Valley (48-1) def. Reese Courtney (11) Center Grove (36-9) 6-2
145: Aidan Torres (12) Chesterton (52-0) def. Wyatt Krejsa (11) Center Grove (20-1) MD 11-2
152: Bryce Lowery (12) Roncalli (44-0) def. Hunter May (11) Evansville Mater Dei (39-2) 3-1
160: Sam Goin (12) Crown Point (39-2) def. Luke Kemper (12) Evansville Central (41-3) Fall 1:30
170: Cody Goodwin (12) Crown Point (25-4) def. Delaney Ruhlman (12) Bloomington South (40-1) 2-1
182: Orlando Cruz (12) Crown Point (35-2) def. De’Alcapon Veazy (10) Fort Wayne Snider (41-2) 5-4
195: John Purdy (12) Castle (44-1) def. Kaden McConnell (11) Center Grove (40-4) 4-0
220: Will Clark (11) Crown Point (38-3) def. Cole Chicoine (11) McCutcheon (40-4) Fall 1:48
285: Leighton Jones (12) Brownsburg (37-5) def. Kelton Farmer (12) ­­Evansville Memorial (39-2) 7-2

LaPorte’s Ashton Jackson earns Ward Brown Mental Attitude Award

Each year the IHSAA Executive Committee selects a senior who was nominated by his principal and coach and was determined to have best demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.

Senior Ashton Jackson of LaPorte High School was recognized by the Committee as this year’s recipient of the Mental Attitude Award, named in honor of Ward E. Brown.

Ashton capped off his career tonight with a runner-up finish in the 120-pound weight class after winning the state title at 106 and 113 the last two seasons. He also is a four-time sectional champion, three-time regional champion, and two-time semi-state champion. 

Jackson is a two-time Academic All-State student with a 3.6 GPA and is a licensed wrestling referee. He is also involved with the American Sign Language Honor Society, the LaPorte Wrestling Club, the LaPorte Parks Department and has worked as a Little League Baseball Umpire. 

He is the son of Adam and Nacole Jackson of LaPorte, Indiana and he plans to attend Purdue University and will wrestle for the Boilermakers.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the proud corporate partner of the IHSAA, presented $1,000 to LaPorte High School’s general scholarship fund in the name of Ashton Jackson. The award is named in honor of the IHSAA's fourth commissioner who served from 1969-76.