By Bill Cross For The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — In the dictionary, the first meaning of “versatile” is “capable of doing many things competently.”
After earning The Herald Bulletin’s Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year award in the fall, Pendleton Heights sophomore Tyler Flood has proven his versatility by capturing the Wrestler of the Year award for 2013-14.
Flood followed up a successful freshman campaign with a trip to Bankers’ Life Fieldhouse and a berth in the wrestling state finals as a sophomore.
Flood finished the season with a 29-8 record that included a sectional title in the 113-pound weight class, a second-place showing in the regional and a fourth-place finish at the New Castle semistate to earn the right to advance to the state finals.
“This year was awesome,” said Flood. “It was definitely better than last year because I made it to the state finals.” Flood, who captured sectional and regional titles in the 106 lb. class as a freshman, did not advance beyond the semi-state that year. It gave him an immediate goal for his sophomore campaign: make it to the state finals.
While his Arabians teammates struggled to stay healthy during a difficult season, Flood avoided injuries and entered the sectionals as the top seed in the 113-pound class. Tyler made quick work of his early round opponents to advance to the final against Lapel’s Ian Lamb.
Flood defeated Lamb by fall to earn the sectional title and moved on to the regional round, which was held at Pendleton Heights. Flood won his first match of the day, guaranteeing him a spot in the semistate round at New Castle. Flood made it to the regional final, but Skylour Turner of Cathedral defeated Tyler for the title. Ironically, the two met again at New Castle in the third place match and Turner again got the better of Flood.
It set up a trip to the Fieldhouse and a match against Garrett Pepple of East Noble. Pepple, who was 41-2 going into the match, defeated Flood by fall and went on to finish as state runner-up.
Flood looked at the experience as a chance to learn what he needs to improve upon for next year. “It was huge,” Flood said of the state finals. “Getting to the state will help push me to go farther next year.”
Flood brushed off any notion of nerves performing in front of the bigger crowd, giving his opponent credit in the process. “It was all part of the experience,” said Flood. “He (Pepple) had more experience and confidence.”
Arabians coach Dave Cloud also sees a chance for Flood to go farther next year. “Though he didn’t achieve his goal of earning a place, he set himself up for future success,” said Cloud. “I believe having made it to the show this season will strengthen his desire to do everything possible for next season to reach his goal.”
Cloud also felt the distractions from being a first time finals qualifier will not interfere with Tyler next year. “He will return as a finals veteran and all of those distractions (fellow students, parade, crowd size, etc.) will be part of the background.”
Flood comes from a family of athletes, including his twin brother Tony who also wrestles and runs cross country. It could lead to some interesting matches, but Tyler admits he and Tony do not wrestle each other much. “I don’t wrestle Tony much because we fight like brothers,” Tyler said with a laugh. “But it’s great having him for support.”
His uncle (Lennie Jarrell) was a wrestler at Pendleton Heights and his parents ran cross country. Running cross country has mental and physical benefits for Tyler. “It gives me energy and helps me keep my weight,” he said. “But also it helps to know that I have to keep going and still have something left at the end of a long race.”
Mental focus is important in cross country and can be just as important for a wrestler. Flood maintained it through the year to reach his goal of making it to Bankers Life. “Tyler’s state finals appearance was a big lift for the team and the coaches after such a difficult season,” said Cloud. “Throughout the entire season, his focus never lagged and he kept his thoughts on wrestling at Bankers Life even when things were tough.”
Flood has already focused on his goal for 2014-15. Not only to return to the state finals, but to return and stand on the podium with a top-four finish.
Honor Roll: Nate Ryan, Alexandria; Matthew Boyll, Pendleton Hts.; Zach Saylor, Anderson; Garrett Allen, Frankton; Zach Amos, Anderson; Derek Bryant, Elwood; Spencer McCool, Pendleton Hts.; Sammy Mireles, Elwood; Bryant White, Anderson; Rome Kayzer, Anderson