ANDERSON — For some high school athletes, there is a big jump from that level to competing for an NCAA Division I program.

Highland senior wrestler Camden Eppert, a state champion as a sophomore, has chosen Purdue for his college and the step up might not be that large.

“I feel like I’ve been preparing for college instead of for high school,” Eppert said in a phone conversation Monday night. “I don’t think (the step up) will be as bad as some might be thinking. I set a goal not to go as a high school wrestler but as a college wrestler.”

He just returned from a national tournament in Greensboro, N.C., this past weekend, where he knocked off the nation’s No. 2, No. 3 and No. 9 wrestlers at his 119-pound weight class.

“I had some pretty big wins there,” Eppert said. “The whole summer, I’ve pushed the tempo. I want to wrestle like me. I know I can hit and score on anyone I wrestle. When I touch a leg, I want to finish it.”

He had three visits before making his college choice. He went to Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., and to Indiana University.

“When I visited Old Dominion, I just didn’t like the atmosphere,” said Eppert. “They didn’t take me in like they did at Purdue. At Indiana, I knew a lot of people there. But when I asked some people how they knew where to go they said it was a gut feeling, and I knew right then that it wasn’t the right place because I didn’t have that gut feeling.”

But he received that vibe at Purdue from coach Scott Hinkle.

“Coach Hinkle just started last year,” Eppert said. “I knew him and the assistants that I met from them being at other tournaments. I like being around them. They brought me in like I was a teammate already. There was a lot of diversity there. There were hillbillies and goofballs and guys who were nonchalant. I just like where they are going with the program’s mentality. They want to be a national champion.”

Highland wrestling coach Kyle Poyer believes that Eppert has made a wise decision and that it’s completely in character.

“Camden has always put himself in the best possible position to succeed,” Poyer said. “Whatever his goal, he’s capable of reaching it. He’s never satisfied. He’s constantly refining what he’s doing.”

Eppert was fourth in the state as a freshman and then claimed the state title as a sophomore at 103 pounds. Last year, he was state runner-up at 112 pounds and he enters his senior season with a prep career record of 116-9.

He already has a good idea of a possible major while in West Lafayette.

“I always liked punching numbers, so I was thinking about accounting,” Eppert said. “But then my brother pointed out that I wouldn’t be happy sitting behind a desk all day, and he was right. So I’m thinking about getting into exercise science or nutrition. I really love anatomy and learning about the human body.”

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