Parading around the fieldhouse at Franklin Community, 23 wrestlers held their purple banner high in pride representing Seymour before hitting the mats.
The Seymour Wrestling Club competed at the Indiana State Wrestling Association’s Elementary Dual Team State Championships this past weekend.
Story continues below gallery
With an eighth-place finish, the wrestlers brought home a trophy to commemorate their inaugural competition.
A total of 20 teams attended and were divided into four pools.
The teams consisted of kids from kindergarten to sixth grade, and wrestlers competed in weight classes regardless of age.
The top two teams in each pool advanced to the bracket stage.
In pool play, Seymour defeated Madison, Warren Central and Franklin Community before falling to reigning two-time champions Avon.
“We had a bye between Madison and Warren Central,” Seymour coach Justin Ratliff said. “I told the kids that the match against Warren Central was important. If we won that, we were guaranteed a top-eight finish and trophy.”
Finishing second, Seymour faced Perry Meridian next.
Perry Meridian and Terre Haute South both defeated Seymour in bracket play to follow up the 12-hour day of matches.
“We were ecstatic placing our first year,” Ratliff said. “I think there are a lot of people who weren’t expecting that (placing). At different times during the day coaches came up to us and told us we were doing really good.
“It shows that the hard work is producing results. The kids were also well behaved and the parents were encouraging, and that’s a testament to everyone working together.”
The Seymour Wrestling club, which has nearly 65 total kids, has grown tremendously over the past three years.
“This is our third year in USA Wrestling,” Ratliff said. “Before that, we just had an intramural league going. One of the things that makes kids better, in my experiences, is getting involved in USA tournaments. You get to see a lot more competition from other schools. I really push getting into competition — outside of your comfort zone. State is a huge step in that direction.
“When you set high standards, that process and journey takes you a step above. I think state is that next step. We saw some of the best wrestlers in the state there. There were state champions and runner-ups.”
Ratliff said that the state tournament has already made his kids better.
“I saw a huge growth from the beginning of the tournament to the end,” he said. “We had that feeling that we belonged there. That builds confidence. Those kids are going to bring that back to our club and I believe that will continue help our club grow.”
In recent competition, Seymour has also finished first at the Seymour Fall Classic, second at the SWC Elementary Duals, Kentuckiana Elementary Duals Championship and third at the Southern Indiana Duals Championship.
With the varsity team at a school-record 22-2, wrestling has evolved in Seymour.
Ratliff feels the program is making strides from the bottom up.
“This is one program from kindergarten to the 12th grade,” Ratliff said. “We’ve got a technique to the way we train that flows all the way through. We’re not re-training them on the fundamentals. It’s a matter of tweaking technique and strength training with conditions. The amount of experience will certainly add to it.”
2016 Indiana State Wrestling Association’s Elementary Dual Team State Championships
Seymour 44, Franklin Community 36
Seymour 50, Madison 34
Seymour 51 Warren 21
Avon 52, Seymour 37
Perry Meridian 63, Seymour 28
Terra Haute South 48, Seymour 45
Top-8 placings (of 20 teams)
5- Perry Meridian
7-Terre Haute South