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February 20, 2010

Bennett, Berryman send Scots out in style

INDIANAPOLIS — Nothing was going to stop Sam Bennett this year.

Not a broken ankle eight weeks before the start of his senior wrestling season.

Not the teeth he lost during a mishap in the wrestling room two weeks ago.

Not a return of the pain in his ankle during the week leading up to the state finals.

And certainly not Elkhart Memorial’s Zachary Corpe.

The challenger scored a takedown to surge to a 2-0 lead early in the first period of the state championship match Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse then watched as Bennett (42-0) rattled off six straight points to walk away with his first state crown.

“I kept telling myself I was going to be a state champion,” Bennett said. “But I wasn’t ready for this.”

It’s hard to believe anyone could be.

A state championship isn’t won in a day, or even a year. Saturday was the culmination of four years of hard work, sweat and determination from a number of people in the Highland wrestling family.

With 10 seconds left in his championship match, Bennett looked to the corner of the mat and made eye contact with Scots assistant coach Maurice Swain.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

Moments later, the normally reclusive wrestler sprinted over to Swain and leapt into his arms.

“Yeah!” he shouted, loud enough for even fans in the balcony to hear.

“We had it all planned out,” Bennett explained. “I wasn’t hoping I could do it; I wanted to get it done. I worked my butt off for it, and I got it.”

Swain spent the day reminding Bennett he was the best wrestler in the field. The two have worked out together every day for the past five years, dating back to Bennett’s middle school days.

Swain made sure Bennett remembered Camden Eppert’s example from a year ago. Eppert lost to Cathedral’s Brandon Wright in the regional and semistate before trumping him in the state championship match.

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