IHSAA Individual Wrestling
1996-97 State Finals in Review
Leroy Vega of Portage, Steven Bradley of Beech Grove
and Bill Maldonado of East Chicago Central earned their second
state titles in the 59th Annual Indiana High School Athletic Association
Wrestling State Finals February 21-22, 1997 at Market Square Arena
Vega led all the way in posting a 5-2 victory over
junior Greg Schaefer of Evansville Mater Dei in a battle of unbeatens
and former state champions at 112 pounds. Bradley completed a
38-0 season by defeating John Leavell of Decatur Central 5-1 at
125 pounds. Maldonado finished 41-2 at 135 with a 3-2 decision
over Darrell Carr of Wawasee.
Besides Vega and Bradley, five other wrestlers were
crowned unbeaten champions. Those athletes were:
Portage and Carmel were the only schools to produce
multiple winners. Vega and Warner doubled for Portage, while Kopnisky
was joined by Todd Wright at 189.
Attendance records fell for the championship round
and the overall state finals. A crowd of 10,665 was on hand Saturday
night, boosting the total two-day mark of 37,020. The previous
records were 10,530 for the championship round (1995) and 36,528
overall (1996). It was the fifth straight year that overall attendance
had shown an increase.
The IHSAA Executive Committee selected Jared Williams
of Evansville Harrison High School as the 1997 recipient of the
Ward E. Brown Award for Mental Attitude in Wrestling. Williams
completed the season 46-1 as the runner-up at 171 pounds. A four-time
sectional champion, Williams had been the fourth-place state finisher
at 160 pounds in the 1996 state tournament. Farm Bureau Insurance,
corporate partner of the IHSAA, awarded a $1,000 scholarship to
Evansville Harrison High School in the name of Williams.
A total of 298 schools and 6,221 athletes began competition
at the sectional level.
The 59th Annual IHSAA Individual Wrestling State Finals
February 21-22, 1997
Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana
103 -- Gary Schmucker (40-1), NorthWood, def. Brian Paxson (33-2), Bluffton, 5-0.
112 -- Leroy Vega (50-0), Portage, def. Greg Schaefer (44-1), Evansville Mater Dei, 5-2.
119 -- Vince Sessa (41-0), Lake Central, def. Nick Hull (41-2), Lawrence Central, 8-7.
125 -- Steven Bradley (38-0), Beech Grove def. John Leavell (21-5), Decatur Central, 5-1.
130 -- Brian Smiley (36-2), Plainfield, def. Adam Johnston (37-3), Hammond, 10-5.
135 -- Bill Maldonado (41-2), East Chicago Central, def. vs. Darrell Carr (41-2), Wawasee, 3-2.
140 -- Eric Sakon (42-3), Indianapolis Cathedral, def. David Himes (30-2), Roncalli, 6-4.
145 -- Donny Sands (35-3), Pendleton Heights, def. Joey Strausburg (33-1), Center Grove, 8-4.
152 -- Jake Warner (51-0), Portage, def. Pete Peterson (38-2), Pike, 4-3 (OT).
160 -- John Kopnisky (41-0), Carmel def. Shane Wagner (25-3), Zionsville, 6-3.
171 -- Josh Hardy (40-3), Princeton, def. Jared Williams (46-1), Evansville Harrison, 10-6.
189 -- Todd Wright (38-1), Carmel, def. Richard Clevenger (36-6), Warren Central, 6-4.
215 -- Anton Talamantes (30-0), Fort Wayne Dwenger, def. Scott Gross (44-2), Shenandoah, 7-4.
275 -- Joe Willis (36-0),
Southport, def. Dustin Bentz (45-2), Madison, 5-2.