EVANSVILLE — Bristen Dial made his first trip to semistate a memorable one.
Now, the Brown County senior will have a chance to make more memories at state this weekend.
Dial captured third place at 182 pounds in Saturday’s Evansville Semistate to qualify for state for the first time.
The first round will be Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the rest of the state finals will be on Saturday.
“It’s nerve-racking, really,” Dial said. “I didn’t know what to think. I thought I was coming in with the wrong mindset, real negative, and I guess I surprised myself.”
Last year, Dial lost in the first round of the regional, falling one win short of a trip to semistate. He said that served as motivation for this year’s run.
“I was in the weight room and wrestling room every single day, dedicating my time to get better,” Dial said. “I just wanted to make it.”
Dial won Jennings County Sectional and Jeffersonville Regional titles to make it to semistate.
“I’ve been taking baby steps,” Dial said. “At first, my goal was to win sectional. Once I did that, it was to win regional. One of my goals was to win semistate, and when I lost, I had to remake a goal.”
On Saturday, Dial scored a 5-2 decision against Avon’s Andrew Frank in the opening round. Dial then edged Terre Haute North’s Ike Murrell 2-0 in the quarterfinals, or “ticket round.”
In the semifinals, Dial fell to sixth-ranked CJ Damler of Brownsburg. Dial bounced back with a 4-3 decision against Indian Creek’s Grant Goforth in the consolation match.
“That was a huge sign that he just didn’t pack it in,” Brown County coach Mark Bruner said. “He wasn’t just satisfied with making the state tournament. As a senior, this is what you want. You want to finish off your career doing the best you can.”
Bruner said Dial has put in a lot of work to show that he wanted to make it to state.
Dial, who wants to wrestle at Indiana University, will take a 35-5 record into state. He’ll face eighth-ranked Joey Blakeley (48-4) of Prairie Heights in the opening round.
If Dial wins Friday, he would likely faced top-ranked Blake Rypel (41-0) of Indianapolis Cathedral in Saturday morning’s quarterfinals.
“If I’d have been fourth (at semistate), I don’t think I would have made it (to Saturday),” Dial said. “I think with the right attitude, the right mindset, the right work ethic this week, I really think I can probably advance to the second round at state.”
Story by Ted Schultz for The Democrat