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By the time the high-school state tournament ended last winter, there was no doubt who the best 125-pound wrestler in the state was. Perry Meridian junior Jared McKinley (No. 12 @ 132) pinned three of his four opponents in the first period at Conseco Fieldhouse, finishing his state meet run with a pin of Roncalli rival Josh Kieffer in 1:58.

But as good as McKinley was last year — he followed his individual title up by winning three matches the following weekend in helping the Falcons win the team state title — the wrestler feels he is going to a higher level this season. The thought of repeating as state champ is a big reason.

“I won it all last year, and I feel like I’ve got to stay on top, so I’ve trained harder than I ever have before,” said McKinley, who is 15-0 with 13 pins and has yet to give up an offensive point. “I think I am wrestling better than I ever have before, because I want to win that second state title.”

McKinley waltzed through the Marion County Tournament field Dec. 17, picking up two first-period pins before completely controlling Ben Davis junior Levi Moss, who came into the match ranked third in the state and with a 15-0 record. The 7-0 win wasn’t a pin, but it was convincing.