Hamilton Southeastern's Austin Holmes enters this weekend's IHSAA state tournament as the county's lone semistate champion. file photo
Hamilton Southeastern's Austin Holmes enters this weekend's IHSAA state tournament as the county's lone semistate champion. file photo
On Friday night, high school wrestlers from across the state will converge at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis for the 77th annual Indiana High School Athletic Association wrestling state finals.

The two-day event begins with first-round action on Friday at 6 p.m. and continues the next day with the top-eight wrestlers in each of the 14 contested weigh classes battling for state medals.

Quarterfinal matches are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Saturday with the semifinals to follow. The consolation finals will take place at 5 p.m. and the championship finals start at 7:30 p.m.

Hamilton County will be represented by 10 wrestlers at this year's state finals with Hamilton Southeastern sending six, Fishers with two, and Westfield and Carmel with one each.

Here are this year's state qualifiers:



Klayton Anderson

School: Hamilton Southeastern

Year: Freshman

Weight: 106 pounds

State Ranking: No. 2

Record: 38-2

Path to State: The freshman sensation has been electric all year, holding his spot in the rankings with tremendous efficiency. At the Zionsville Sectional, he captured his first career postseason title, besting fellow state qualifier Alex Strueder of Fishers in the finals. At the North Montgomery Regional, he scored a fall and a tech fall before winning by decision 5-0 in the finals, once again, versus Strueder. At the New Castle Semistate, he pushed through into the finals with a fall and a 5-2 decision in the ticket round. He defeated No. 18 Keyuan Murphy of Warren Central in the semifinals by major decision 12-4 before losing by fall in 4:45 to No. 17 Cainan Schaefer (45-2) of South Dearborn in an upset. During the regular season, Anderson seized the Hamilton County title at 113 pounds and the Hoosier Crossroads Conference crown at 106.

First-Round Opponent: Christian Hunt (46-3), Yorktown

Biggest Immediate Threat: If Anderson wins his first match on opening night, he faces without question the toughest quarterfinal test at 106. Barring an upset, top-ranked Colton Cummings (41-1) of Lowell will await Anderson, which will pit No. 1 vs. No. 2.



Alexander Strueder

School: Fishers

Year: Freshman

Weight: 106 pounds

State Ranking: unranked

Record: 35-9

Path to State: Strueder was selected as an alternate for the 106-pound state bracket. A well-deserving qualifier, the freshman finished runner-up at the Zionsville Sectional and the North Montgomery Regional. He reached the ticket round at the New Castle Semistate with a decisive pin of Indiana Deaf's Jared Spinale (25-10) in 1:06 before falling to the eventual champion South Dearborn's Cainan Schaefer by major decision 9-0. Prior to the postseason, Strueder placed third at the Hoosier Crossroads Conference meet and was fourth at the Hamilton County Tournament.

First-Round Opponent: Geoffrey Davis (34-6), Fort Wayne Wayne

Biggest Immediate Threat: Davis is ranked 19th in the state and if Strueder advances into Saturday, he could see either No. 9 Mason Miranda (20-5) of Avon or No. 5 Tylor Triana (37-4) of Hobart in the quarterfinals.



Austin Holmes

School: Hamilton Southeastern

Year: Junior

Weight: 113 pounds

State Ranking: No. 7

Record: 42-3

Path to State: Holmes is making his second consecutive trip to the state finals after placing fourth at 113 last year. As the county's lone semistate champion, the junior has been a fixture in the state rankings from Day 1. At the Zionsville Sectional, he won over Carmel's Adam Jerde to claim his second straight career title. He continued his perfect postseason run at the North Montgomery Regional, winning three straight for a repeat crown. Improving from his semistate runner-up finish last year, Holmes took down three ranked opponents to win the championship. He defeated No. 14 Erik Owens of Warren Central by fall in 5:30, Beech Grove's No. 10 Ethan Smiley (34-7) by decision 11-7 in the semifinals and Cathedral's No. 6 Skylour Turner (40-3) in overtime 8-4 for the title. Prior to the postseason, Holmes won the Hamilton County title at 120 and the Hoosier Crossroads Conference championship at 113.

First-Round Opponent: Anthony Mosser (36-8), Adams Central

Biggest Immediate Threat: After the first round, Holmes will see plenty of ranked opponents. In the quarterfinals either No. 11 Rickie Rodriguez (34-3) of Hammond Morton or No. 16 Jacob Skaggs (32-8) of Avon will be his next test. Top-ranked Garrett Pepple (42-0) of East Noble roams in his bracket as well and could be a serious challenger in the semifinals.



Evan Eldred

School: Westfield

Year: Junior

Weight: 132 pounds

State Ranking: No. 6

Record: 33-9

Path to State: A state qualifier at 120 pounds as a freshman, Eldred returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse after placing fourth at the New Castle Semistate last weekend. The junior finished runner-up to HSE's fifth-ranked Jack Chastain at the Zionsville Sectional and the North Montgomery Regional. At semistate, he punched his ticket to state with a 3-2 decision against No. 9 Jordan Napier (31-3) of Perry Meridian. Eldred lost to No. 7 Nick Ellis (37-8) of Roncalli by injury default in the semifinals and again to Chastain in the consolation finals by decision 7-1. Before the postseason, he placed third at the Hoosier Crossroads Conference Tournament and won his second-career Hamilton County title over Chastain.

First-Round Opponent: Austen Laughlin (46-6), South Bend Riley

Biggest Immediate Threat: The quarterfinals won't be easy. If the rankings hold true, Eldred should see No. 3 Conner Knapp (41-2) of East Noble. Knapp, a senior, is a three-time state qualifier and placed fourth at 113 in 2013 and third at 120 last February. But the Fargo All-American is strong contender despite what the rankings may suggest.



Jack Chastain

School: Hamilton Southeastern

Year: Senior

Weight: 132 pounds

State Ranking: No. 5

Record: 41-4

Path to State: Since finishing fifth at sectional as a freshman, Chastain has been a postseason mainstay. This weekend marks his third consecutive state finals appearance. He was a qualifier at 113 pounds in 2013 and placed fifth at 126 last year. This winter he went on to seize his third career sectional and regional titles. A year ago he won his first semistate crown at 126 and was a runner-up at 113 the prior postseason. Last weekend, he took third at the New Castle Semistate. Warming up against East Central's Gabe Lane with a 1:29 fall in the first round, Chastain went on to pin No. 4 Matthew McKinney (35-5) of Warren Central in 3:05 during the ticket round. The senior was upset in the semifinals by No. 18 Jordan Vaughn of Franklin Central in overtime 7-5 before bouncing back in the third-place match with a 7-1 decision versus No. 6 Evan Eldred of Westfield. He took runner-up honors at both the Hamilton County and Hoosier Crossroads Conference meets this year.

First-Round Opponent: Zach Donaldson (36-3), Crown Point

Biggest Immediate Threat: Out of the gate, Chastain faces a ranked foe in Donaldson, who is No. 10 in the state. After that, the state's top-ranked wrestler in Evansville Mater Dei's Nick Lee should feed into Chastain's quarterfinal. Lee placed third at 126 last year as a freshman. Three more ranked wrestlers have the potential to move into Chastain's semifinal path as well in No. 7 Nick Ellis (37-8) of Roncalli, No. 14 Sage McCoy (40-9) of Delta and No. 17 Blake Strawsma (39-3) of Benton Central. The junior trio are all first-time state qualifiers.



Keegan Stansberry

School: Hamilton Southeastern

Year: Senior

Weight: 138 pounds

State Ranking: No. 6

Record: 37-1

Path to State: For 36 consecutive matches, Stansberry was perfect on the season. Motivated to make up for lost time after suffering a severe back injury which robbed him of his junior campaign, the senior rolled to win his first-career sectional and regional championships this year. A semistate qualifier as a sophomore at 126, Stanberry was a sectional runner-up two years prior and a fourth-place finisher at regional. At last weekend's New Castle Semistate, he earned his ticket to state with a 13-4 major decision against Hamilton Heights' Riley White in the quarterfinals. Stansberry suffered his first defeat on the year via injury default against No. 1 ranked Brandon James (41-0) of Perry Meridian, a three-time state-place winner and runner-up at 132 last year. Despite the loss, he bounced back in the consolation finals to take third overall with a 3-2 decision against Southmont's Conner Moore. During the regular season, Stansberry won his first career Hamilton County and Hoosier Crossroads Conference Tournament titles.

First-Round Opponent: Kyle Todrank (43-3), Gibson Southeastern

Biggest Immediate Threat: From the first match, Stansberry will see tough competition. Todrank is ranked fifth in the state. If the seeding holds, Stansberry will face the state's fourth-ranked wrestler in Clarence Johnson (39-1) of Merrillville in the quarterfinals with defending state champion Tommy Cash (41-2) of Lawrence North lurking in his side of the bracket as well. Cash was runner-up to James at the New Castle Semistate.



Mason Gaines

School: Fishers

Year: Senior

Weight: 145 pounds

State Ranking: No. 17

Record: 38-5

Path to State: Few wrestlers can match the sheer strength of Gaines. An overpowering attacker, the senior dropped from 152 pounds to 145 this season and with it came immediate dividends. A fourth-place sectional finisher last year, Gaines captured his first-career sectional and regional titles to reach his first semistate. At New Castle, he plowed through the first round with a 19-4 tech fall and scored a 5-3 overtime upset against No. 8 Noah Warren (36-4) of Perry Meridian in the ticket round. He was a semistate runner-up after knocking off No. 4 Evan Smiley (39-5) of Beech Grove in the semifinals by major decision 10-2. His run ended against No. 6 Trent Pruitt (39-2) of Warren Central by fall in 3:49 during the championship match. His dominance extended from a stellar regular season, which included winning his first-career Hamilton County and Hoosier Crossroads Conference titles.

First-Round Opponent: Tanner Shipley (41-3), Huntington North

Biggest Immediate Threat: Shipley won't be an easy out in the first round, but the competition gets even tougher it the quarterfinals. Gaines could see either No. 10 Patrick Schnell (39-7) of Castle, a 2013 state qualifier, or No. 3 Steven Lawrence (35-3) of Portage, who was seventh at 138 last year.



Corbin Gregg

School: Hamilton Southeastern

Year: Senior

Weight: 152 pounds

State Ranking: unranked

Record: 36-12

Path to State: Gregg gained notice during the summer months, but he didn't hit his stride until this winter - and most notably the postseason. Finishing runner-up at the Zionsville Sectional, the North Montgomery Regional and the New Castle Semistate, Gregg continues to amaze with grit and perseverance. The senior's only losses this postseason have come to No. 6 Kellen VanCamp (42-1) of Lebanon with each in the finals. At regional, he upset No. 20 Tanner Webster of North Montgomery in the semifinals with a fall in 6:52. At semistate, he beat No. 19 Dominic Herrick (32-10) by decision 11-5 to advance into the championship match. During the regular season, Gregg finished fourth at the Hoosier Crossroads Conference Tournament and was third at the Hamilton County Meet.

First-Round Opponent: Josh Garman (43-1), Carroll (Fort Wayne)

Biggest Immediate Threat: The first match is always the hardest at state, and Gregg's opener is no exception. Pitted against the state's third-ranked wrestler in Garman, an upset for Gregg could be rewarded with a quarterfinals meeting with the state's top-ranked Tommy Forte (33-0) of Mishawaka. Forte has placed third at 132 in 2012, first at 138 in 2013 and was runner-up at 145 last year.



Spencer Irick

School: Hamilton Southeastern

Year: Junior

Weight: 170 pounds

State Ranking: No. 19

Record: 36-9

Path to State: Finishing 11-6 as a sophomore at 145 pounds last year, it's been a season of first for Irick. During the regular season, he won his first Hamilton County Tournament title and was a competitive third at the Hoosier Crossroads Conference Meet. At the Zionsville Sectional, he captured his first-career title with a win against No. 18 Alex Ragains (37-7) of Frankfort. At the North Montgomery Regional, he was third overall, beating Ragains again. Irick placed fourth at the New Castle Semistate. He became HSE's sixth state qualifier with a fall in 0:59 against Balin Orcutt of Knightstown in the ticket round.

First-Round Opponent: Dillon Jackson (32-4), Yorktown

Biggest Immediate Threat: Irick will need to be at his best from the first match, drawing fourth-ranked Jackson on Friday night. The senior placed third at 170 last year. If Irick moves into Saturday, he will see either No. 17 Ismeal Cornejo (29-7) of Portage or defending state champion No. 5 Jacob Stevenson (34-6) of Franklin Community in the quarterfinals.



Sam Hipple

School: Carmel

Year: Junior

Weight: 195

State Ranking: No. 11

Record: 27-4

Path to State: Hipple, a standout football player, improved across the board during his junior wrestling campaign. Taking runner-up at sectional, fourth at regional and only qualifying for semistate last year, the lone Carmel state qualifier won his first-career sectional and regional crowns this season. In both tournament's, Hipple bested No. 10 Scott Fuller (34-8) of Zionsville to win. At the New Castle Semistate, he became a first-time state qualifier with a fall in 3:40 against Milan's Jacob Cavins (38-5) in the ticket round. After falling to top-ranked Blake Rypel (43-0) of Cathedral in the semifinals, Hipple bounced back with a third-place finish at semistate, winning for a third straight week against Fuller by decision 5-2. Prior to the postseason, the Greyhound captured his first Hamilton County Tournament title.

First-Round Opponent: Tanner Bradley (26-4), Mishawaka

Biggest Immediate Threat: Bradley comes in as the state's 16th-ranked wrestler at 195. However, the real challenge will be in the quarterfinals where No. 2 Randy Scott (42-1) of Mooresville, who was third at 195 as a junior last year, could be waiting.