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City’s Wilcher remains unbeaten

December 24, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — If it’s possible to be under the radar at 23-0, Michigan City’s John Wilcher certainly qualifies.

“He went out at regionals last year, so people don’t know about him,” Wolves assistant coach Tom Vasbinder said.

That might not be the case much longer. The Wolves 220-pounder kept the perfect mark intact in Saturday’s Michigan City Super Duals, scoring pins in the only two matches when he had to take the mat.

“An easy day,” Wilcher said.

With the likes of Chesterton, Merrillville and Crown Point on the schedule after the calendar turns to 2019, Wilcher knows much stiffer challenges lie ahead, and with them, the opportunity to validate his gaudy record.

“Make myself known,” Wilcher said of his goal. “I feel a lot better about myself this year. I’ll be a little nervous (against them), but nervous is always good. It gives you more energy, more power than you think. I’ve been working a lot harder, drilling a lot better, lifting weights in the off-season, playing football, doing extra things. I’m fresher.”

Wilcher shared weight class honors at 220, the only Wolves wrestler to finish the day with an unblemished mark.

“He’s been working hard,” Vasbinder said. “He’s got to keep working hard to keep that record. People want to knock you off because you’re undefeated.”

City went 4-1 on the day with wins over East Chicago Central (60-12), West Central (51-24), John Glenn (48-36) and Gary West Side (64-12). Its sole loss was to tournament champion River Forest, 54-24.

“I was pleased. I didn’t think we’d go 4-1,” Vasbinder said. “We battled. We had to forfeit some weight classes, but we fought hard. It’s all coming together for us. The kids are actually listening and sticking to the game plan. We’re being successful with it. It’s translating into wins, which keeps the kids happy and keeps them working hard. Practicing all week and getting your butt kicked (Saturday), it’s hard to come back every day.”

Trae Anderson (138) and Royce Robinson, Jr. (285) each went 4-1.

Robinson’s sole loss came in the opening round against East Chicago in a match he was leading until he made a wrong move and actually pinned himself.

“Every loss, you just learn from it, look at the film,” he said.

The football standout first wrestled as a sophomore, missing last season due to a knee injury, and decided to give it another go for his senior year.

“At first, I was like, nah, but coach Tom, me and him are like boys. All these guys, I know really well,” he said. ”(Wrestling)’s something that helped me become a better football player. It’s way more fun than just lifting weights every day. I’m getting better at practice. Mainly my speed, my explosiveness, keeps me going.”

Between 265 and 270, Robinson has an athletic skill set that’s not too common in the top weight class.

“We keep things simple because he’s aggressive and powerful,” Vasbinder said. “He looks for other things outside the box, too, when that comes along.”

Anderson’s sole loss came in a high-scoring scramble with River Forest’s Javier Bugla, who was named the meet’s outstanding wrestler.

“I’m very disappointed with that loss,” Anderson said. “It’s a loss I shouldn’t have taken, but losses come, you just have to bounce back. I went in too confident. I wrestled (Bugla) a few times at (Elite Athletic Club). We went back and forth.

“I figured it was going to be a tough match. I went into it thinking I was going to kill him and it didn’t happen.”

City will have Christmas week off, including a four-day practice break, and return to action the first week of January.

“It’s well-deserved,” Vasbinder said. “They’re feeling good about themselves.”

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