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Prairie Heights wrestlers make history while still setting new goals

January 18, 2018

LAGRANGE, Ind. – To say that Brett Smith has turned around the Prairie Heights wrestling team is definitely an understatement.

Since taking over at his alma mater 7 years ago, Smith has seen the hard work of his athletes and coaches pay off.

“The first couple of years we coached, we were giving up 3 or 4 forfeits in varsity,” head coach Brett Smith says.

The Panthers have undergone a monumental momentum swing ever since, including winning a third-straight Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association team state championship in December.

“We kind of have high expectations and high goals ever year. We think of ourselves as being one of the top teams in the state,” Smith adds.

The IHSWCA team duals are designed to crown a team wrestling state champion. When the IHSAA discontinued its separate team state finals after the 2011-12 season, coaches across the state worked to create a separate meet that would recognize champions in 4 different classes.  Twelve teams are invited to the IHSWCA state duals each year based on a points system for individual qualifiers at sectionals, regionals, semi-states and the IHSAA state meet from the previous year.

In addition to a 3 IHSWCA team state titles in a row, Prairie Heights has won 4 straight Northeast Corner Conference regular season championships, 3 straight IHSAA sectionals and the program’s first regional title a year ago. After a perfect 10-0 conference record this year, the Panthers look for a 4th-straight NECC Tournament title on Saturday. The senior class of Panther wrestlers finished an astonishing 129-7 in regular season dual meets over four years.  

“With success, you’re always hungry for more,” sophomore Lucas Waite says. “The competition is going to get tougher and tougher, so you just have to work harder and harder.”

That success has sparked more interest in wrestling, swelling the high school rosters to 30 boys. Additionally, Smith says, the middle school and elementary school programs are really taking off, and community attendance at home is on the rise.

Through passion and work ethic, teammates say they have developed a special bond through wrestling at Prairie Heights, one of a number of Northeast Indiana high schools that partners with Parkview Sports Medicine for athletic training services.

“We’re brothers,” Waite says. “You always want to beat your brothers. With your friends—your brothers—you always want to up them.”


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