INDIANAPOLIS — Fame and fortune didn’t change Tristan Ruhlman a bit until after the night was done.
That’s when the senior Bloomington South became a state champion in the 220-pound weight class at the IHSAA state wrestling finals on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“It was really was a great feeling to be there under the lights and that I won that for myself, my team and my family,” Tristan said. “Just incredible.”
That trio had plenty to celebrate with younger brother Delaney ending his sophomore season as the state runner-up at 138. They scored enough points (47) to place South seventh, its highest finish since the team tournament that ran from 1996-2012 was abandoned. South was seventh in 1990.
“All this weekend was very exciting for me,” Delaney said. “Some of it was new, so it was exciting to experience more of it and to see everything that state has to give.”
Tristan’s 10-2 major decision gave South its first state champ and first finalists since Reece Freeman won in 2007. Since then only Edgewood’s Damien Chambers (2014) and Bloomington North’s Garret Goldman (2011) from the area have made it to the final. The last time South had two finalists was in 2006 when Kurt Kinser and Paul Young both won.
So No. 18 for South since the schools in Bloomington were split in 1972 was a long time coming.
“I’m still numb right now really,” said South coach Mike Runyon, who took over the Panthers program in 2013. “And overall, finishing seventh on top of that. I know we haven’t done that in a long time.
“And to get my first state champ, that feels good to get that under my belt.”
Tristan (27-0) was dominant. He started with a pin of 1:25 against Jamarion Taylor of New Castle, then took on top-ranked Evan Bates of Chesterton, the defending state champ who hadn’t given up a takedown all postseason and won 9-3. That daunting task done, he approached the finals with the same verve.
“My mindset was that I go out and impose my will,” Tristan said. “That’s the thing we went out and did. That’s what I wanted to do, to make him conform to me.”
“He did a great job of keeping his composure,” Runyon said.
Tristan ’s foe in the final, Jason Streck of Merrillville (32-2), whose brother Rudy wrestles at IU, had the only two-pointer (a reversal) scored against Bates all postseason, in a 6-4 loss in the semistate final. But Streck had never been beyond the first round at state as a sophomore and junior and Tristan jumped on him at the end of the first period with a takedown and nearfall for a 4-0 lead.
Tristan picked up a reversal in the second and added a reversal and two-point nearfall to put it away, and he kept attacking to the end.
“There wasn’t much to it,” Tristan said. “Just go out on the mat and do my thing. Wrestle how I know I can and keep the pressure high. I knew if I kept on him, he’d be done after the first period.
“It was all about the preparation leading up to this tournament, the one last week and the week before that. All those matches came together to get me to where I am today.”
And that’s where Delaney intends to be as soon as next year.
“Some of his matches, I was getting a little nervous in certain spots,” Delaney said. “But I’m really happy for him. I’m proud of him being able to become a state champ.”
Delaney (30-3) also had plenty of momentum going into his final, but junior Jesse Mendez of Crown Point showed why he’s now 116-1 as a high schooler and ranked No. 6 nationally. He needed just a minute to catch Delaney and record the pin to become the 39th three-time state champ in state history.
“I would say Mendez is on a completely different level,” Delaney said. “I don’t have any regrets about that match. I went as hard as I could for the time I was out there.”
South was one of five schools with more than one finalist.
“That was just incredible to see him out there,” Tristan said. “His Friday match had me on the edge of my seat. After that, no apprehensive feelings at all about him being able to place high. To be able to share it with my brother was awesome.”
Delaney, ranked second, had an 11-1 major decision and got a pin of 28 seconds in the semifinals when Wawasee’s fifth-ranked Jace Alexander got hurt.
“Today, I felt like I competed well and controlled my matches,” Delaney said.
Like his older brother, Delaney was more comfortable in his surroundings, even though he didn’t make it to the second day last year.
“He kept his composure very well,” Runyon said. “He wrestled well all weekend. He got a pretty good draw.
“Mendez is nationally ranked but Delaney didn’t back down. He caught us, put us on our back and the rest is history. But I couldn’t be more proud of both of them.”
They have certainly made their mark for a proud program that points toward this day, every day of the week.
“I think it’s huge for the program as a whole,” Runyon said. “To have two kids perform like that puts us back on the map a little bit.”
“I think it means we’ve still got it,” Tristan said. “No question about it, as a program, we work harder than any other in the state. That is what I believe and that is what was able to drive us in our matches tonight.”
Wresting IHSAA STATE FINALS
Top 20 team scores
Evansville Mater Dei 112
Perry Meridian 97
Crown Point 88
Indpls. Cathedral 84
Bloomington South 47
Warren Central 47
Center Grove 39
East Central 36
Floyd Central 35½
Columbus East 33
Indpls. Lutheran 26
North Posey 25
FW Carroll 24
West Lafayette 23
Finals and area results
106: Toby Billerman, PerryM (35-4) d. Blake Zirkelbach, NPos (28-7), 4-2 (third); Ashton Jackson, LaP (35-2) d. Evan Dickey, Cathdrl (29-3), 8-2 (first).
113: Kyrel Leavell, Warren C (31-3) d. Coy Hammack, Tell City (33-3), 3-2 (third); Alexzander Cottey, PerryM (36-2) md. Isaac Ruble, Bellmont, (28-1), 17-9 (first).
120: Lane Gilbert, Sullivan (30-1) d. Dillon Graham, Cathdrl (28-6), 9-5 (third); Sergio Lemley, Chestrtn (37-1) d. Logan Frazier, Crown Pt (34-4), 3-2 (first).
126: Brady Ison, Brwnsbrg (26-2) d. Samuel Goin, Crown Pt (16-3), 3-0 (third); Zeke Seltzer, Cathdrl (33-0) d. Cheaney Schoeff, Avon (35-6), 9-3 (first).
132: Ian Heath, Leo, md. Cade Meier, BS, 12-3. FINALS: Heath (33-1) d. David Pierson, Warren C (30-5), 6-4 (third); Kysen Montgomery, Brwnsbrg (31-3) d. Alex Freeman, Mater Dei (28-2), 2-1 (TB-OT) (first).
138: Delaney Ruhlman, BS, d. Bradley Conrad, Portage, 8-3; Ruhlman md. Luke Goodwin, Southport, 11-1; Ruhlman p. Jace Alexander, Wawasee, :28. FINALS: Blake Boarman, Mater Dei (31-2) d. Alexander (26-3), injury default (third); Jesse Mendez, Crown Pt (34-0) p. Ruhlman (30-3), 1:00 (first).
145: Jaden Reynolds, Avon (40-2) d. Hunter May, Floyd C (28-5), 10-4 (third); Logan Wagner, Z (38-1) d. Hayden Watson, CG (32-5), 9-5 (first).
152: Matthew Koontz, PerryM (34-3) d. Jajuan Anderson, Warren C (34-2), 3-2 (third); James Conway, Floyd C (31-0) d. Brock Ellis, Chestrtn (33-5), 6-4 (SV-OT) (first).
160: Kade Law, ColE (36-4) d. Andrew Wilson, Cathdrl (28-5), 3-0 (third); Broderick Baumann, Mater Dei (30-0) (d. Robert Major, Carmel (40-1), 15-11 (first).
170: Ulrik Urasky, Cathdrl (27-4) d. JaJuan Dale, PerryM (23-9), 8-4 (third); Bryer Hall, ECent (34-0) p. Samuel Morrill, ColE (38-2), :58 (first).
182: Aiden Warren, PerryM (37-3) md. Brandon Estepp, Warsaw (21-9), 14-3 (third); Gabe Sollars, Mater Dei (30-0) d. Drake Buchanan, CG (35-2), 9-4 (first).
195: Eli Pack, Culver (21-1) d. Gage DeMarco, Chestrn (38-4), 1-0 (third); Hayden Filipovich, Lutheran (44-0) d. Brach Carrington, Grncstle (40-1), 7-2 (first).
220: Tristan Ruhlman, BS, p. Peyton Kendall, Penn, 1:21; Ruhlman, p. Jamarion Taylor, New Castle, 1:25; Ruhlman d. Evan Bates, Chesterton, 9-3. FINALS: Bates (37-1) d. Jeffrey McClure, PerryM (31-8), 5-0 (third); Ruhlman (27-0) md. Jason Streck, Merrillvle (32-2), 10-2 (first).
285: Leighton Jones, Brwnsbrg (32-1) md. Evan Shafer, Connersville (39-2), 14-1 (third); Reeve Muncie, FWCarr (35-1) d. Mariere Omonode, WLaf (16-1), 3-2 (first).
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