Danville's Molloy claims state title

By Jake Thompson Hendricks County Flyer
INDIANAPOLIS — Saturday night, Neal Molloy achieved what no other wrestler in Danville school history has ever accomplished.

He became a state champion.

In front of a record crowd of 10,285 at Conseco Fieldhouse, Molloy (130 lbs.) earned a dominating 8-1 decision over Jimtown's Collin Crume in the championship round of the state finals.

He celebrated with a back flip after capping his impressive season and tournament run with his 50th consecutive victory.

"It feels great and it's everything I imagined, being under the lights and winning by a pretty big margin," Molloy said. "It's everything I ever dreamed it was. It's amazing."

The victory over Crume pushed Molloy's career win total to 90.

As impressive of a feat as it is to win a wrestling state championship as a sophomore, the way in which Molloy accomplished his goal certainly deserves recognition.

Rolling through semistate with three first-period pins and a technical fall to earn the championship, Molloy picked up where he left off Friday night, defeating Elkhart Central's Trevor Echartea 23-9.

With that victory, Molloy achieved what he has been so diligently working for since last season's first-round exit in the state finals.

His chance at redemption.

Molloy followed up that victory with a 24-9 technical fall of No. 4Ðranked Taylor Wisler in the opening round of action Saturday, fulfilling Danville coach Steve Pugliese's prediction that everyone would see a "different wrestler" than the night before.

In the semifinals, Molloy handled No. 2-ranked and undefeated Travis Barroquillo with relative ease, leading 8-1 before allowing a reversal in the waning seconds of the match to finish with an 8-3 decision.

Pugliese beamed with pride after the final match, hugging his star pupil who had become the first wrestler he had coached to a state championship.

"It feels pretty good, but (other coaches) have a lot to do with that too," Pugliese said. "He trains with CIA (Central Indiana Academy of Wrestling) with Coach (Ed) Pendoski and Coach (Brady) Eppert. ThereÔs a lot of people involved in this. I would love to take the credit for him, but I am not going to do that because I know better.

"I think we all thought it was going to happen, we just didn't think it was going to happen as a sophomore. It's a big deal and he earned every bit of it."Ê

For as much success that Molloy enjoyed, Plainfield senior Dustin Parrish's tournament run ended on a sour note.

Parrish looked to improve on a sixth place finish at 152 last season; however, he finished in eighth place at 171.

But as a veteran of this tournament and having wrestled for 14 years, Parrish appreciated being in the position of the final eight wrestlers in the state.ÊÊ

"It happens and there is nothing to be ashamed of," Parrish said. "I am probably in the third or fourth toughest weight class here and when there are four guys in the semi finals of your weight class that are undefeated, it proves this is a deep weight class. I knew that coming in and I put my best effort out there and had a good time. That's all I can ask for."

Quakers' coach Paul Nicodemus knows that as tough of a day that Parrish endured, his team takes a big hit also as it loses a four-year varsity wrestler.

"Just to be wrestling in the second day is a big deal and something to be proud of," Nicodemus said. "There are a lot of really good wrestlers across the state over the years that have not gotten to do that. It is definitely something for our younger kids to strive for who came here to watch him."

Pugliese wrestled at Indy West when I was coaching there. Neal went 48-1 this last year placing 5th-Defeated the State champion during regular season then lost to ?? in the quarters.