By Adam Biszantz
Brayden Littell of Center Grove emerged from the recent Indiana High School Athletic Association state wrestling championships at Bankers Life Fieldhouse as the only state champion representing a southside school.
In the team competition, Cathedral High School placed first; Roncalli came in sixth and Perry Meridian placed ninth.
Brayden’s young life is a true story of how hard work and an attitude of never giving up can make a champion. He is a junior at Center Grove, this was his real first full year of high school wrestling. Brayden started his high school career at Perry Meridian during his freshman year, then mid-year transferred to Center Grove, which meant he couldn’t wrestle for the rest of that high school season
In year two, when his career should have taken off, he suffered from an old nagging knee injury, which he received in football at age 11. Unfortunately for Littell, the knee was just too painful and unstable to wrestle, causing him to have surgery, which now meant no wrestling for year two. After he recovered from his injury, he was finally ready to show what he could do on the mat in his junior year.
Wrestling all over the U.S., from North Dakota to North Carolina, Brayden showed that he belonged with the best of the best, but the question remained: Could he channel that energy to become the Indiana state champion?
Brayden, wrestling in the 120-pound class, and Center Grove were both hungry for that victory. It had been seven years since Center Grove had a state champion. Brayden, ranked No. 1 in the state by Indiana Mat, eased through the first couple of rounds.
For his final match, he found a familiar face waiting for him across the mat: Blake Boarman from Evansville Mater Dei. Brandon ranked No. 2 in Indiana. Brayden had wrestled with Blake recently in semi-state. The outcome would be no different as Brayden beat Blake 9-3, handing Blake his only defeats in the year.
After the match in his live TV interview, Brayden stated, “It helped me a lot to know his shots and how he set them up.”
Brayden finished his junior year in wrestling with a stunning 44-0 record and a state champion medal. Brayden ended his night by thanking his Center Grove fans who came to watch and his mom and dad.
Breakdown of the standings by school
The Perry Meridian Falcons took six wrestlers to the state finals; the Roncalli Rebels took five. Center Grove Trojans took two and the Greenwood Community Woodmen sent one.
Alexzander Cottey (41-1) placed second and scored 16 team points at 106 lbs.
Aiden Warren (35-7) placed third and scored 11 team points at 145 lbs.
Samuel Fair (25-7), played at 152 lbs., placed second at 120 lbs. last year and fifth at 106 in 2016.
Brooks Davis (36-7) placed third and scored 12 team points at 160 lbs.
Austin Lane (35-6) played at 195 lbs.
Samuel Littlejohn (11-14) played at 285 lbs.
Brayden Lowery (42-1) placed third at 120 lbs. and scored 13 team points.
Alec Viduya (41-2) placed second and scored 16 team points at 132 lbs.
Tyce Freije (38-4) placed fourth at 138 lbs. and scored 11 team points.
Elijah Mahan (40-2) placed third at 170 pounds and scored 13 team points.
John Harris (35-4) played at 285 lbs.
Brayden Littell (44-0) placed first and scored 20 team points at 120 lbs.
Peyton Pruett (44-2) placed fifth and scored six team points at 160 pounds.
Nick Willham (36-3) placed second and scored 18 team points at 195 lbs.
Anyone can view and download photos from the finals for free at: lightroom.adobe.com/shares/8b4ac61887d14878b088309fa8678e8d.