Hunter Page made Monroe Central history over the weekend at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. As one of just four Golden Bear wrestlers to ever punch a ticket to the state finals, he become the only one to stand on the podium that recognized the top eight place winners.
Page guaranteed himself a top eight finish by winning his match on Friday night. He lost his second match to the eventual state champion, won his third match, then was narrowly defeated in his fourth match that determined his ultimate placing of fifth or sixth.
His coach Anthony Richardson summed up the weekend in a positive
“He was a little bit disappointed at first I think because he wanted to do better, but I reminded him that he just went to the state finals and faced the top wrestlers in the state and finished 2 and 2. That’s pretty good if you think about it.”
In his first round match on Friday evening, Page was locked in a good dual with Valparaiso senior Colin Kwiatkowski. The match was tied at 4-4 in the third period when Page scored on a reversal and then quickly pinned his opponent at the 5:51 mark.
The normally reserved Page raised his hands in celebration after the win, knowing that he had just made school history and guaranteed himself a spot in the final eight.
Page also knew he would have his hands full with his first opponent on Saturday. In the quarterfinals on Saturday morning he faced an undefeated senior from Evansville Mater Dei, Gabriel Sollars. Sollars, using more experience, was able to pin Page in 1:19 of the first round.
Sollars would go on to win the title at 182 lbs. with convincing decisions over his next two opponents.
Page, meanwhile, was moved into the four-person bracket for places five through eight. In his first match, he won a 5-3 decision over Jake Sues over Lake Central, a junior.
“We knew we had a good shot against Sues because he had previously lost to Kwiatkowski,” Richardson said.
Page had a 3-2 lead heading into the third period, but Sues managed to tie the score at 3-3 on a stalling penalty. Page, though, responded with a takedown and kept Sues at bay to win a 5-3 decision and advance to the match for fifth and sixth.
The Monroe Central sophomore may have had his best performance of the weekend in his final match as he lost a 3-2 decision over Chesterton senior Gavin Layman. Layman came into the weekend undefeated and won his first match, but lost in the quarterfinals by a 10-3 decision to eventual runner-up Drake Buchanan.
Page took a 2-0 early, but gave up an escape and takedown and trailed 3-2 entering the third period. He was unable to get a takedown in the third period and lost by a point.
Page was one of only two sophomores among the 16 wrestlers in the weight class. The other sophomore was beaten in the first match.
“I was very happy to be down there. All the support I got from people was really great,” Page said about his experience.
Reflecting on his four opponents, Page said Sollars was the best opponent he’s faced in his career and will tuck his loss away as a learning experience.
“One of the main thing I learned is that you have to be aggressive and not sit around and wait for something to happen.
“I’m not ready for wrestling to end. I’m ready to go back next year,” he said.