Provided by Carson Johnson
Semi-State and State wrestling meets took place February 13th and February 19th. For some, State feels like it was just yesterday. MVHS wrestlers Kellen Kerr, 12, Russell Weaver, 11, Riley Anderson, 11, Andrew Johnson 12, Avery Hanson, 12, Hunter Austel, 11, and for the girl’s roster Kayleigh Kirkwood 11, and Sierra Pienkowski, 12, had an outstanding season.
MVHS had a handful of students who qualified for Semi-State including Aiden Kiner, 11, Zachary Haughton, 11, Conner Bayliss, 9, Carson Johnson,12, and Devin Kendrex, 9. Senior Carson Johnson, and our preeminent Freshman, Devin Kendrex went on to participate in State.
What is it like being a wrestler though? Is it fun? More difficult than other sports? Aggressive? Or is it a place to not only get some pretty cool metals, but to gain friendships and maybe even family? Kellen Kerr, Carson Johnson, and Connor Bayliss had a lot to say about their time wrestling.
Q: What would people like to know about wrestling?
Carson Johnson: “It’s not like any other sport where you’re going in there and practicing and then leaving and you don’t worry about practice for the next day, but with wrestling it’s not like that.We have to worry about not only on the mat, but off the mat.”
Kellen Kerr: “It’s a very physically and mental demanding sport. You’ve got to make sure you stay focused on your goals. Got to make sure you work hard.”
Conner Bayliss: “How emotionally it affects you, it’s not just what they teach you. Most kids stop in middle school, but in high school you gotta actually put your mind to it.”
Q: Would you suggest wrestling for fun or a career?
Johnson: “I wouldn’t take it super seriously; I would go in there and have fun with it because that is when you are really going to learn the most and picking up stuff without even realizing it. If you go in, putting yourself to a high standard and putting pressure on yourself, you’re going to underperform. Because you already mentally exhausted yourself.”
Kerr: “I would say it’s probably better for fun because if you focus on it too hard it’ll be worse on your body. So if you just do it for fun, it’ll be less pressure.”
Bayliss: “I personally could see myself doing it career-wise. Others it could be for fun. Like an off season sport.”
Q: Explain Semi-State and State
Johnson: “Semi-State you’re going out there not only to win, but also not lose. You need to tell yourself you’re going to win. You just get so much anxiety out there, especially in the biggest gym in the country. And that’s what happened in State for me. I know I didn’t place, but just the experience. It is sad that it’s over, but I’m happy with how far I have made it.”
Kerr: “We probably have the best Semi-State, all of our guys got really good draws. Two of them happened to make it out. Carson, the 138 pounder, he got 4th and lost a close match for third and Devin he got second and lost a close match for first.”
Bayliss: “It was really cool, it was really big and crowded and just cool. I didn’t like my outcome but it was still a nice experience.”
Q: How do you think this season went?
Johnson: “I think it went really well. Wrestling down there with a freshman like Devin is just crazy and I’m happy it was with Devin,”
Kerr: “I think the season went pretty well; we wrestled a few ranked teams and we lost close. Though we had a pretty good team, we just gave up too many pins. People weren’t fighting off their backs.”
Bayliss: “I thought it went really well. I think I put a lot into the practices and showed up to the meets so I think it was a success.”
Q: What will you miss the most about high school wrestling?
Johnson: “My friends, I don’t have a lot of friends. I really have a small circle. My coaches, the new head coach, he’s been my assistant for a while and he’s coached me all the way up.”
Kerr: “Hanging out with the team, because during the off season we wrestled at different tournaments around indiana and we stayed in hotels and it was just a good team bonding thing.”
Bayliss: “Probably the people, my coaches, this opportunity they gave me, just all of it.”
Q: How do you think you worked together as a team?
Johnson: “This year was a lot different. We worked really good together as a team because we not only were working hard inside the room, but we hung out outside of it which gave us a bond to better each other,”
Kerr: “By pushing each other, we wrestle live together so, however hard you work is going to make your partner work even harder.”
Bayliss: “On the varsity squad we all work together really well. We encourage each other and push each other to be better.”
Q: Will you miss the team or wrestling more?
Johnson: “The team. I would say wrestling if I was not wrestling in college.”
Kerr: “That’s a hard one, because the team we bond so much we hang out with each other outside of wrestling. But wrestling, my season is already over and I kinda already miss it, being at practice and all that. So kinda a tough one.”
Bayliss: “Probably both. I mean the team, it’s a great atmosphere and they encourage me and hype me up, especially the seniors and upperclassmen. But ever since I started wrestling, it’s just been really fun and I have just been getting better.”
Q: Will you continue to wrestle?
Johnson: “Yeah, in college.”
Kerr: “I will not continue wrestling.”
Bayliss: “Yeah, I plan to wrestle for my whole four year high school career.”
Q: Words of wisdom for next year’s team? What should they work on?
Johnson: “Stay focused throughout the whole season. Like coach says, make sure to come out one percent better,”
Kerr: “Get better on top of the guy. You gotta ride guys out. You can not cut them.”
Bayliss: “The thing you are struggling at, try to make it your best thing.”
Q: How influential have your coaches been for you?
Johnson: “You have no idea during a match I told my coach I am done and he said no you are not, you’re stronger than this and pushed me to go out there.”
Kerr: “My dad is one of the coaches so I guess I am influenced by him everyday. But coach Haze, he has influenced me by working hard and staying focused and not letting my emotions get the best of me when I lose tough matches”
Bayliss: “Very influential, they started to coach me in middle school and since then they just kept teaching me new things and getting me better.”
Q: Shout out time! Who is someone you’d like to say thank you to and why?
Johnson: “My mom and dad have sacrificed so many hours, traveling the country, spending money we did not really have, they have just always been in my corner for me.”
Kerr: “Coach Hiner, he is one of our new coaches. He came in this year and he pushed me to be my best. He just helped me a lot in wrestling. He did not really know any of us and he just made us better.”
Bayliss: “Zach Haughton, I’ve always wrestled with him and he’s taught me a lot of moves and has just been there when I slump my head down and just encourages me,”
Q: Famous coach quote?
Johnson: “Don’t suck. One time as I was going out to the mat, coach looked at me and said, “Don’t suck,”
Kerr: “From Hiner, he likes to have his own whistle and he just goes skeet. It is just funny.”
Bayliss: “Elbows done and in, at least that is what the coaches tell me.”