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Fadness heads to Indy for State Finals

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

If you would have asked Rossville head coach Mike Fadness two years ago who he believed would be the first wrestler to advance to the State Finals under his guidance, he probably would have struggled to pick one out of several talented Hornets. After all, five advanced to the semi-state tournament in East Chicago last year.

One answer he is not very likely to have given is his daughter – Morgan Fadness. After all, Morgan was not even on the roster two years ago. Instead, she was one of the team’s managers. Since then, Indiana High School Girls’ Wrestling formed and had its inaugural regional and state finals tournament a year ago, and coach Fadness sold his daughter on wrestling for the Hornets after watching her brothers from the sidelines for years.

Now, her name may be forever inked on the head coach’s arm – and not just because she is his daughter.

“I always told my wrestlers that I am getting a tattoo on my arm of my first wrestlers who gets to go to the State Finals,” Mike Fadness said. “And I said ‘I am going to put your name right there,’

“I have been saying this for years now since I have been coaching,” he continued. “Well, guess who goes on my arm first? My daughter goes on first.”

At the Indiana High School Girls’ Wrestling North Regional at Maconaquah High School in Bunker Hill last Friday, Fadness recovered from a first-round loss to the reigning girls’ state champion at the 113 weight class from Columbia City to pin her next four opponents to take third place and advance to the IHSGW State Finals at the 120 weight class.

“As a dad, it was hard to keep a dry eye,” Mike Fadness said. “As a coach, I was ecstatic. She wrestled her tail off. She really did. She never gave up.”

Instead of being discouraged when defending state champion Mallory Engle pinned her in the second period of their match in the first round of the 120 bracket, Fadness flashed dominance and determination.

Morgan Fadness led 5-0 before pinning an opponent from Lakeland in the second period. She pinned also pinned her next opponent in the second period after building a 4-2 lead, setting up a match versus an opponent from Carmel.

Trailing the Greyhound wrestler, 4-2, Fadness got a reversal in the third period and pinned the girl with just moments left in the match to keep her State Finals hopes alive.

“She was down and wound up sticking her with 17 seconds to go,” Mike Fadness said. “There was no quit. She just kept going. It was magical. It was special. It rates right up there along with my five that went to semistate last year. It is a highlight.”

Morgan finished her regional tournament with a third-period pin of an opponent from Caston.

For the past week, Morgan and her father have been relishing the strong regional performance and getting prepared for the State Finals, where she may get another shot at Engle.

“It has been good. There has been a lot of support from the school and a lot of congratulations and things. It is really good for her,” Fadness said. “She hasn’t had a whole lot of practice going into it, either, so we are going to really start tweaking it (Wednesday) and start really working on a game plan.

“The brackets came out, and she fell in the same bracket as the girl who beat her – the Columbia City girl who is the returning state champ at 113,” he added. “If she wins the first one, then they could meet each other again in the semifinals. So, we are going to get a game plan on how she can work her. It has been fun.”

Morgan Fadness is not the only Clinton County wrestler who has spent the week preparing for the State Finals. Frankfort senior Noemi Guijosa will also be competing at Lawrence North on Friday night after taking third place in her weight class at Maconaquah a week ago.