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Gilbert finishes third at state wrestling finals

Photo by B.J. HARGIS: Sullivan sophomore Lane Gilbert slaps hands with SHS wrestling coach Roy Monroe after one of Gilbert's three wins at the state finals over the weekend.

INDIANAPOLIS — Sullivan sophomore Lane Gilbert competed over the weekend at the 83rd Indiana High School Athletic Association wrestling state finals, winning 3 of 4 matches, finishing third. 

He eclipsed his fourth-place finish last year at the state finals, which was the best in the history of the SHS wrestling program.

“The atmosphere up here is enough to crumble a lot of wrestlers,” said Sullivan coach Roy Monroe. “It is hard for people to understand the level of competition that is up here.

Gilbert won his first two matches by decision. 

On Friday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Gilbert defeated Justin Puckett 13-6 in a first-round match in the 120-pound weight class.

Gilbert had the first takedown and never trailed. He led 4-2 after the first period and 7-3 after two.

It was Gilbert’s 28th match without a loss this season.

“This was the match we had trained for all week,” said Monroe. “Because if you don’t win on Friday, you don’t get a chance to wrestle on Saturday.”

On Saturday morning with a spot in the semifinals on the line, Gilbert won a 9-6 decision over Brandon Vest of Westfield, a junior. The loss was just Vest’s third in 37 matches while Gilbert improved to 29-0.

“That was a very competitive match,” Monroe said. “Vest came into this match with his eye on winning it.

“It was a tough battle. The Vest kid is tough and can really move. Lane about gave me a heart attack.”

In the semifinals on Saturday afternoon, Gilbert fell from the ranks of the undefeated after losing 9-3 to Logan Frazier of Crown Point.

It was a rematch of the third-place match from 2020. Frazier edged Gilbert 3-1 in overtime a year ago.

“We were under the gun in the semifinals,” Monroe said of facing Frazier. “He is bigger and stronger. He had more horsepower than we are used to.

“We couldn’t get him to open up. He got in his stance and stayed there. We had to take some risks and they did not pan out. We are still climbing that ladder.”

This year in the battle for third place, the opponent was Dillon Graham, a freshman from Indianapolis Cathedral..

Gilbert defeated Graham 9-5 to place third. He concluded the season with a 30-1 record and his high school career mark now stands at 67-4.  Graham ended up with a 28-6 record.

“At this level, there are no easy matches,” said Monroe. “Everything has to be clicking.

“This place is packed full of champions.

“We changed up our defense a little bit and wrestled in a safety zone. We were able to capitalize enough to get it done. Graham is just a freshman and has nothing to be ashamed about. Indiana wrestling is not classed, like some other states. We just happen to be one of the smaller schools in Indiana that has a program. There were a lot of kids here, including Lane, that have a lot of heart and wait on practice to start every day. You can train to be a sectional champion or train to be a state champion. We are looking forward to having two more chances to win a state title.”

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