“Been there and wrestled him; tried this and learned that.”
So reads Riley Lefever's resume.
The Carroll senior has traveled far and wide over the past three years with this weekend, and a state championship, in mind.
Lefever takes the mat Friday for the IHSAA championships in Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He leads the area's contingent into Friday's single round, which begins at 6 p.m. The eight winners in each weight class move on to Saturday and are guaranteed all-state finishes. Saturday's second round (quarterfinals) begin at 9:30 a.m. with the semifinals to follow and the consolation round to begin at 5 p.m. The championship round begins at 7:30 p.m.
Lefever heads to Indianapolis with a 43-0 record, including 36 pins, at 170. Yes, his resume is impressive, but it lacks state meet experience. This makes no difference to Chargers' coach Scott Raypole, who said Lefever's experience is unlimited.
“We have a motto in our room that The Season Never Ends,'” Raypole said. “And Riley takes this to the extreme. He doesn't have an offseason, he just keeps wrestling.”
Raypole said Lefever rebounded from last season's semistate elimination with not just any mat time, but an orchestrated mat time.
“Riley has done such a great job of moving around so he could learn different things at different places,” Raypole said. “He'd go to Mishawaka one weekend and then Leo the next. Then he'd go to Garrett and then Yorktown.”
The motive was clear: He wanted to face as many different wrestlers and styles as he could.
Lefever was unavailable for comment for this story.
“He's seen everything they can throw at him. There are no surprises when he takes the mat,” Raypole said of Lefever.
If Lefever's offseason training wasn't enough, Raypole said his wrestler's sophomore year was a key to development.
“I think Riley went 25-14 that year, but he lost so many matches he could've won,” Raypole said. “He was always trying different things and giving up points. He'd lose a match by two or three points and (coaches would say) that if he hadn't been careless and given up those points ... .”
But Lefever must've known better. If he hadn't tried those moves, he wouldn't have learned so much. And, if he hadn't learned so much, would he be 43-0 as a senior?
“Probably not,” Raypole said. “Like I said, there will be no surprises.”
Lefever is ranked No. 2 in the state at 170, and if he wins three times, he is likely to face Merrillville's Bobby Steveson (35-0 and ranked No. 1) for the title. The expectations are high, and neither wrestler nor coach is shy about the possibilities.
“Riley told me he's ready,” Raypole said. “And, personally, if I don't get him a state championship, then I failed him as a coach.”
Other area top seeds are Garrett's Hayden Lee (36-1) at 106, East Noble's Connor Knapp (40-0) at 113 and Bellmont's Brad Busse (34-2) at 182.
Also wrestling are Carroll's Steven Cardenas (126); Tristan Wilson (152) and Brad Sadilek (220); DeKalb's Zach Krumlauf (132) and Conner Brumett (152); New Haven's Reese Sieger (138) and Rashad Jackson-Tatum (160); Woodlan's Brian Salmon (195); East Noble's Jacob Weimer (138); Tyler Housholder (145) and Drake DeMuyt (285); East Noble's Brandon Joest (220); and Churubusco's Jason Nicodemus (220).