There’s a look.
It’s in the face. It’s in the eyes.
A far off, imagine-what-could-have-been stare. All coaches get it at some point.
Twin Lakes’ David McFadden still wore that stare at times Monday, two days after his Indians participated in the Logansport Regional. McFadden brought six wrestlers to the regional, and proclaimed leading up to it the goal was to take at least half that number to East Chicago’s Semi-State meet.
That is why the look loomed.
Twin Lakes won just one of its six opening-round matches, which meant just one wrestler — junior 220-pounder Wyatt Clevenger — extended his season.
“Two or three matches we were really close. Two or three matches were not,” McFadden recalled. “That’s how the day went. I’m disappointed I didn’t get three of six that I wanted … but it’s a process. Maybe my eyes were bigger than my stomach.”
At 170 pounds, Dailan Reece hurt his shoulder in the week leading up to the regional, bad enough that he lasted just 46 seconds in his match — and gutted it out to get that far, McFadden added.
“He went out with fire and looked like Dailan, and the (West Lafayette’s Levi Buck) grabbed him and you could tell (Reece’s shoulder) was done,” the coach said.
Freshman Caleb Turner faced McCutcheon’s Jake Stall in the opening round, and the Maverick racked up myriad points before a second-period pinfall. Turner (20-22) actually got the match’s first takedown scored, “and we’re like ‘Hey, we’re in business,’” McFadden said.
Stall quickly got a reversal and went to work. He led 13-2 in the second before the final turn for a pin in 3:26.
“I don’t think anybody expected him to make it out of his draw,” senior Anthony Pulliam said. “But he wrestled as best he could, and had a really good season.”
Pulliam was still mad at himself days after his first-round loss to Lafayette Jefferson’s Connor Goonen at 152 pounds. Goonen basically spent the entire match disrupting Pulliam’s offense, and worked a lot between two first-period takedowns to garner a 9-1 lead after the opening two minutes.
“He knew what I was trying to get to, because I do that same move every time,” Pulliam said. “He was countering the move … everything was going right for him, and I couldn’t seem to get any of my offense going.”
Added McFadden, “You could tell that the kid concentrated on one match all week, and it was Anthony’s match. That’s smart coaching, because that’s how you move on. Anthony didn’t wrestle any different than he had all year. This kid just did the right things to counter (Anthony) and kept his hips down. This kid just knew what was coming and when it was coming.”
Goonen snagged another takedown in the second period, and it led to a pin. McFadden noted three of the four wrestlers who advanced lost to Pulliam (30-9) earlier in the season — all by pinfall.
“I’m pretty upset with myself. I definitely shouldn’t have lost that match,” Pulliam said. “I can’t take it back, but I know I’m better than that.”
At 195 pounds, Zach Keesling (28-8) fell behind Delphi’s Kooper Kinsler by two after one period and trailed 9-1 after two periods. Kinsler won, 12-2. At 285 pounds, Rowdy Unger faced McCutcheon’s Mason Toth (30-13) and “Rowdy circled and stayed away from the big guy. He did what we asked him to,” McFadden recalled, adding he was watching three matches at once between Clevenger, Keesling and Unger.
Unger and Toth were tied at 0 after one period. Toth earned a reversal in the second, and went up 3-0 with a penalty point. He later collected a two-point nearfall, then rolled it into a pin.
“I look over a couple times and (Unger) had a chance to roll the McCutcheon kid onto his back and just couldn’t break the plane to get it over,” McFadden said of the early part of the second.
Between Keesling and Unger’s weight class came the Indians’ breakthrough.
Clevenger (22-13) faced West Lafayette’s Luke Amann, and picked up an early takedown and a three-point nearfall for a 5-0 lead after the opening two minutes.
Clevenger chose the bottom position to begin the second period, and got an escape point nine seconds in. It led to another takedown and three-point nearfall, and eventually a pin — all within the first 48 seconds of the frame.
“I was instantly happy,” Clevenger said. “This is what I’d worked the whole season for; what was my main goal all year.”
Clevenger claimed his second pin against Amann this season.
“The first time I wrestled him, we just went hand-to-hand the first period,” Clevenger said. “This time, I tried whatever I could in the first period to get a takedown, get ahead.
“I could have pinned him in that first period, but he went out of bounds.”
McFadden was amazed with Clevenger’s performance.
“He has not thrown a lateral drop all year in a match, and he hit two against West Lafayette (Saturday),” the coach said. “I don’t like teaching the throws, because the tendency is to sit on your butt and pull the kid on top of you. But if you do it right, in the right situation, it is deadly. And Wyatt hit every one of them with finesse and at the right time.”
Clevenger’s mindset after the win was “‘I’ve already made it to semi-state. It’s all downhill from there’” despite having two more matches. He fell by pinfall in the semis, and gave up a last-second takedown in the third period for a 3-1 loss to Attica’s Clayton Kelley.
“I wrestled really well,” he said. “There were probably a couple little things I could have done (against Kelley), but overall I think it was the best I’ve wrestled all season in that last match.”
Clevenger’s ascendance, however, was marred slightly by the other outcomes. The first-year coach believes he’ll learn from the experience.
“To be completely honest, I feel it’s my fault and I take the blame. We did not have the same intensity the week of conference and the week of sectionals,” McFadden said. “Instead of putting my foot where it belonged and getting them going, I talked them through it as ‘Hey, it’s individual now.’ At conference and sectional, I basically was Jekyll and Hyde all week. And I stepped back a little bit.
“It’s something to work on, for me and us.”