The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

High School Sports

March 27, 2013

THB Wrestler of the Year: Driven Blanton rises to the top

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — It took Luke Blanton a little more than a week to get over the only loss of his senior season.

The Alexandria star worked nonstop for nearly a year to chase down a state championship. When that quest ended Feb. 16 with a 12-7 loss against Mishawaka’s Tommy Forte in the 138-pound state finals, all that emotion came pouring out.

Blanton sat motionless on a side mat for long minutes after his opponent’s hand was raised, and he later gave a heartfelt tearful interview.

It’s unlikely Blanton ever truly will put the last match of his storied high school career behind him, but in the month-plus since he left the state finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse he has found a healthy perspective.

“After about the first week, I started looking more positively at it,” Blanton said. “I had a heck of a run. There’s no negative. It’s all positive. I just really enjoyed my time.”

After finishing in fourth place as a 132-pounder in 2012 — and ending his season with a loss to Forte in Indianapolis — Blanton devoted his considerable work ethic toward standing on top of the podium this year.

His effort was more than admirable. It was historic.

And it was more than enough to earn him the honor as The Herald Bulletin’s 2013 Wrestler of the Year.

Blanton won his first 51 matches, claiming titles in the Madison County tournament, the sectional, the regional and the semistate on his way to the state finals. With three more wins in Indianapolis, Blanton became the first wrestler in Alexandria history to wrestle under the lights in a state championship match.

It’s a memory that clearly will last a lifetime.

“I felt like I was representing my school, my community, the county, the sectional, the regional, the semistate,” Blanton said. “It was just an awesome feeling, just being under the lights. I’ve never felt something like that before. It was just awesome.”

The loss to Forte only dulled those emotions for awhile.

At Tigers head coach Jack Grimaldi’s urging, Blanton took a two-week break from the mat. The rest healed his battered body and cleared his cluttered mind.

And he returned earlier this month with renewed purpose.

Blanton will wrestle at the Senior Nationals from April 4 to April 7 in Virginia Beach, Va. He chose that event over a similar tournament in Fargo, N.D., because it allows him to stick with the folkstyle matches of high school and college competition.

His familiar work ethic is back in full effect. He’s been on the mat four or five days a week all month, and he said he’ll likely increase his workouts as the tournament approaches.

He’s also got a familiar partner by his side, longtime Alexandria teammate Lincoln Kyle.

“We still push each other,” Blanton said. “We work very well together. I’m blessed to have him as a partner.”

When he’s done in Virginia, Blanton’s intense focus will turn to Bloomington. He’ll wrestle next fall at Indiana University, and he spent much of last week watching the Hoosiers compete on the mat in the NCAA tournament.

His goals, predictably, are high.

Blanton hopes to make the varsity roster as a freshman, no easy feat in a sport where redshirt seasons are routine, then set his sights on Big Ten and national championships.

And he’ll chase after it all with the same dogged determination that marked his career at Alexandria.

“It’s gonna be fun to get another goal and just work like hell for it for four years,” Blanton said.

If the result is anywhere near the career he carved out with the Tigers, it’ll be a memorable four years indeed.

“He definitely made history at Alexandria,” Grimaldi said in Indianapolis after the state finals. “He’s going to be a tough act to follow.”

1
Text Only
High School Sports
  • SPT - HB0424 - Frankton vs AHS - 048 Frankton hits early, often in win over Anderson Frankton pounded out 11 hits in handing Anderson its second softball loss in as many nights.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT - HB0424 - Alex v MG 3 Argylls hold on to top Tigers Pitching and defense win games, especially in girls high school softball and it was on display here Wednesday evening as the Madison-Grant Lady Argylls picked up a 4-1 Central Indiana Conference win over the host Lady Tigers.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indians come up short against Tigers in golf The Anderson Indians came up short against Yorktown 147-170 on Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Tigers nip Argylls in girls track meet ALEXANDRIA -- Kelsey Crisp had a trio of firsts and a second place finish and her Alexandria Tigers needed every one of those as they nipped Madison-Grant 61-60 in a girls dual track meet here Tuesday. Crisp won the 100, the 400 and the long jump and

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT - HB0423 - PHHS golf 1 PH displays depth, dismantles Delta Three of Pendleton Heights top five golfers sat out Tuesday’s match against Delta, and the Arabians barely missed a beat. Tyler Meyer and Chase Simpson fired low nine-hole scores of 36 to pace the Arabians to a 159-190 victory over the Eagles.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0422 - AHS PH 4 Lady Tribe takes down county champs In sports, timing can be everything. For the Anderson Lady Tribe, the timing was perfect for an upset Monday night as they squared off with 2014 Madison County softball champion Pendleton Heights. Anderson took advantage of five Pendleton errors and pounded out seven hits to take a 12-5 win over the sixth-ranked Arabians.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millers knock down M-G Class 2A Madison-Grant took a big step up to play Class 4A Noblesville in softball on Monday night, and the result was a 10-0 loss in five innings to the Millers.

    April 21, 2014

  • Area Roundup: Tigers rally to win ranked battle Alexandria rallied for three runs in the sixth inning to knock off Daleville 7-6 in a battle of ranked teams Monday night.

    April 21, 2014

  • SPT - HB0419 - Muller final - 077 Arabians make history in Muller thriller Pendleton Heights beat Anderson 3-2 to become the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament's first repeat champion.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Arabians win third straight County softball title It was a scenario Pendleton Heights had seen before. The game was scoreless late into the championship game of the Madison County softball tournament.

    April 19, 2014

Latest Sports Photos


Click here to browse and buy photos from The Herald Bulletin