INDIANAPOLIS — After all the miles he ran in preparation for this moment, it only made sense that Matt Hurford would run a little more.
A big, wide circle around the center mat, knees high, fists pumping in celebration, a look of both joy and relief on his face.
A minute before, in front of 10,000 cheering spectators at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Hurford had taken down Perry Meridian’s Jake Masengale for the second time during their 182-pound championship match at the IHSAA state wrestling finals.
That did the trick, as the Culver Community senior held on for a 9-4 victory.
“This is awesome. I can’t believe it,” said Hurford, the second Cavalier in three years to win a state wrestling title.
Jeremiah Harvey claimed the heavyweight championship in 2011, when Hurford was a sophomore. The memory of Harvey’s accomplishment has been a motivator ever since.
“Oh yeah, I think of what he did all the time,” said Hurford, who closes his season with a perfect, 48-0 record. “I knew if I worked hard, I could do the same thing. I tried to work hard every day.”
Joining Hurford on the IHSAA awards stand was Culver Academies senior Anthony McHugh, who finished fifth in the 138-pound weight class.
After pinning New Haven’s Reese Sieger in Friday night’s opener, McHugh ran into a brick wall named Luke Blanton of Alexandria during Saturday morning’s quarterfinals.
Though he only gave up four points, the Eagle team leader was unable to generate any offense and dropped a 4-0 decision.
McHugh (46-5) bounced back in the wrestlebacks, tripping Peru’s Evan Loe, 3-2, and then whipped Juwan Bartlett of Lawrence North, 6-2, in the consolation match for fifth place.
“Losing to Blanton was tough, because I really wanted to get to the finals,” said McHugh, who plans to wrestle at the Air Force Academy a year from now.
“I mean, I was feeling pretty good,” said McHugh. “I felt crushed after (the loss to Blanton), but I guess I wrestled OK the rest of the day.”
Hurford, meanwhile, wrestled more than OK. Despite a bad case of nerves, he was never in danger of losing any match.
His closest contest was a 3-0 decision over New Palestine’s Brian Wagner in the semifinals. He eliminated Warren Central’s Katrell Moss, 7-2, in the quarterfinals.
“I was really nervous, but I felt like I was able to take control of the matches,” said Hurford, who only gave up one takedown during the weekend. “I never felt like I was in danger.”
Though he was still working to confirm the statistic as of Saturday, Cavalier assistant Chad Hollenbaugh said Culver Community may be the smallest school in Indiana ever to claim two state wrestling champs.
Culver’s league, the Northern State Conference, came up strong at this year’s finals. In addition to Hurford, Jimtown’s Nick Crume won a title at 126.
As expected, No. 1-ranked Perry Meridian ran away with the team title as the IHSAA returned to determining its champion by tournament scoring for the first time in 18 years.
With three individual champs, Perry Meridian racked up 102 ½ points. Yorktown was second with 62 and Mishawaka placed third.
Culver Community ended up 17th in the final team standings.
• 75th ANNUAL IHSAA STATE WRESTLING FINALS
At Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
TOP 25 TEAM SCORES: Perry Meridian 102 ½, Yorktown 62, Mishawaka 53, Indianapolis Cathedral 45, Franklin Community 41, Warren Central 40, Fishers 36, New Palestine 36, Bloomington South 31, Merrillville 31, Danville 30, Hanover Central 30, East Noble 26, Muncie South 24, Greenfield Central 23, Lake Central 21, Culver Community 20, Hamilton Southeastern 20, Jimtown 20, Lowell 20, Carroll (Fort Wayne) 18, Kokomo 18, South Bend Clay 18, Rushville 18, Penn 17 … 42, Culver Academies 6.
106: Chad Red (New Palestine) dec. Garrett Pepple (East Noble), 4-0.
113: Stevan Micic (Hanover Central) dec. Zach Davis (Penn), 9-7.
120: Deondre Wilson (Warren Central) dec. Drew Hughes (Lowell), 6-2.
126: Nick Crume (Jimtown) dec. Luke Welch (Castle), 3-1 in OT.
132: Cody Lecount (Perry Meridian) tech fall Grant Martsolf (Mishawaka), 16-1 in 4:26.
138: Tommy Forte (Mishawaka) dec. Luke Blanton (Alexandria ), 12-7.
145: Neal Molly (Danville) dec. Eli Walker (Yorktown), 4-3.
152: Josh Farrell (Greenfield Central) dec. Vinny Corsaro (Indianapolis Cathedral), 3-2.
160: Riley McClurg (Perry Meridian) dec. Austin McCloskey (Western Boone), 2-1 in OT.
170: Bobby Steveson (Merrillville) dec. Riley Lefever (Carroll-Fort Wayne), 5-4.
182: Matt Hurford (Culver Community) dec. Jake Masengale (Perry Meridian), 9-4.
195: Mitch Sliga (Fishers) pinned Jaylin Allen (SB Clay), 0:31.
220: Gelen Robinson (Lake Central) dec. Fletcher Miller (Kokomo), 7-2.
285: Donte Winfield (Perry Meridian) dec. Joseph Garland (Rushville), 5-1.
(For fifth place)
138: Anthony McHugh (Culver Academies) dec. Juwan Bartlett (Lawrence North), 6-2.
138: Luke Blanton (Alexandria) dec. Anthony McHugh (Culver Academies), 4-0.
182: Matt Hurford (Culver Community) dec. Katrell Moss (Warren Central), 7-2.
182: Matt Hurford (Culver Community) dec. Brian Wagner (New Palestine), 3-0.
138: Anthony McHugh (Culver Academies) dec. Evan Loe (Peru), 3-2.