INDIANAPOLIS - Garrett's Hayden Lee isn't looking to be the first, he just wants to be the best. On Friday, Lee had to settle for the former, but today he'll wrestle for the latter.
Lee pinned Lebanon's Caleb Bocock in 2:34 during the preliminary round of the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals at Banker's Life Fieldhouse to become the first match winner at this year's meet. The junior, now 37-1, advances to today's medal rounds, where he'll face Franklin's D.J. Smith.
Winners on Friday are guaranteed all-state honors with top eight finishes. But Lee, who was third last year, is looking for more than just an all-state medal.
“I guess this is pretty neat,” Lee said of his early win. “But I wasn't trying for a quick pin. I wanted to wrestle a full period just so I could get the flow.”
Lee dominated Bocock from the whistle, scoring a quick takedown and racking up several back-points en route to 12-0 lead after one period. An equally quick reversal to start the second period led to the pin. It was start Lee expected but again, he's looking forward.
“I feel like I'm the best 106-pounder in the state and that's what I'm here to show,” said Lee, who placed third last year.
Equally impressive was East Noble's Connor Knapp, a 13-0 victor over Zionsville's Mitch Weber. Knapp, now 41-0, said his strategy was to establish control.
“I like to get a quick takedown and get those points,” Knapp said. “That forces (the opponent) to wrestle, to open it up.”
Knapp likes his chances in today's rounds.
“I have a deep shot at (advancing) the finals,” Knapp said. “I just have to wrestle my style.”
Also winning big were 170-pounders Anthony Linnear (North Side) and Riley Lefever (Carroll).
Linnear improved to 33-4 with a 59-second pin of Clinton Central's Jeffrey Scott. Linnear, who finished third last year at 170, has suffered all four of his defeats to Lefever.
The Charger senior improved to 44-0 with a 19-8 takedown clinic of K.C. Hedger.
Other area winners were East Noble's Garrett Pepple (106) and DeKalb's Connor Brummett (152).
Wrestlers who lost Friday were Carroll's Steven Cardenas (126), Tristan Wilson (152) and Brad Sadilek (220), DeKalb's Zach Krumlauf (132), East Noble's Jacob Weimer (138), Tyler Hausholder (145), Brandon Joest (220) and Drake DeMuyt (285), New Haven's Reese Seiger (138) and Rashad Jackson-Tatum (160), Woodlan's Brian Salmon (195), Bellmont's Brad Busse (182) and Churubusco's Jason Nicodemus (220).