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Madison-Grant's Jones adjusts plans with finals trip

STATE BOUND: Madison-Grant senior A.J. Jones battles with Yorktown’s Holden Parsons in a 285-pound semifinal of the New Haven Semistate in Fort Wayne on Saturday. Jones would drop the match but finish third in his weight class to become just the second Agyll wrestler in history to earn a trip to the IHSAA state championships.

BY CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

FORT WAYNE — A.J. Jones had made other plans for this coming weekend, but the Madison-Grant senior had something else come up.

Like a trip to the IHSAA state wrestling finals.

Jones was headed to a national qualifying track and field meet to compete in the shot put and discus. A third-place finish in the 285-pound weight class at the New Haven Semistate Saturday in the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum forced a change in those plans.

Not that he’s complaining. There will be other track meets, but this will be his only chance to compete in a state finals wrestling meet.

Qualifying for state didn’t seem possible for Jones, who missed his entire junior season with a torn labrum and had never advanced out of the regional until a week earlier. Jones needed an overtime victory in the second round (aka ticket round) to punch his ticket.

“I’m really proud,” Jones said after his consolation match victory, a 23-second pin of Monroe Central’s Logan Swallow. “I never in a million years thought I would be going to state, especially after coming off an injury like I did.

“But I did it and we’re going Friday,” he added.

Jones will be part of a four wrestler Grant County contingent headed to the state finals beginning Friday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, the most since 2005. Oak Hill sends seniors Bradley Rosman and Stewart Mossholder and sophomore Harper Dedman.

While Oak Hill has sent wrestlers to state in three of the past five tournaments, Jones is just the second Argyll wrestler to qualify and joins Keith Callahan who earned his trip in 1985.

Jones had an outstanding season with a 34-3 record and Grant Four, Central Indiana Conference and sectional championships. 

This fall, Jones will attend Indiana Wesleyan University where he will compete in the weight events for the Wildcats men’s track and field team.

He has ambitions of qualifying for the IHSAA boys’ track and field state finals this spring.

Jones needed just 1:04 to pin Goshen’s Jose Rosales in the first round, but had to rally late to defeat Reeve Muncie of Carroll (Fort Wayne), 4-2 in the ticket round. Jones tied the match 2-all with a takedown in the third period and then executed a takedown with 24 seconds left in the first overtime period.

Jones barely kept his feet inbounds as he pulled off the takedown, and the two officials conferred briefly before confirming he pulled off the move.

“I was nervous,” Jones said. “I didn’t know if I would get it. When I took him down I was holding on to his legs for dear life and pointed my toes and was like I hope I’m in. The referee blew the whistle and I didn’t know if he was blowing it for out of bounds or if I got the takedown.

“I kind of rolled over and looked up and he threw his hand up for two (points) and that’s when I knew I’m going to state,” he added.

In the semifinals, Jones faced Yorktown’s Holden Parsons, the top-ranked wrestler at 285 pounds, and was defeated 3-1 in a tight match. It was scoreless until Parsons scored on an escape and takedown to start the third period and Jones scored late with an escape.

“I could have done a little more, but I was tired,” Jones said. “When we got to that third period we were both sweating a bunch and I didn’t have quite enough conditioning to go all the way through the third period.

“But you learn from your losses and I’m going to take that and hit practices hard this week and get ready for state next weekend,” he added.

At state, Jones is matched up against Ben Davis’ Muhammad Sidibe (23-4), a second-place finisher at the New Castle Semistate, in the first round. A win would advance Jones to Saturday and a medal for a top eight finish.

Oak Hill had two runner-up semistate finishers for the first time and Dedman and Mossholder both lost to Huntington North wrestlers. Dedman was felled by the Vikings’ Preston Teusch at 113 pounds, while Mossholder was pinned in the third period by Charlie Agnew in the 195-pound final.

To earn his state ticket, Dedman defeated Bellmont’s Dominic Litchfield, 6-1 in the second round and avenged two previous losses, then rallied back to decision Angola’s Jett Boots in the semifinals, 3-2.

“(Litchfield) beat me in the summer and beat me in the Peru Super Six so it was good to get revenge on that,” Dedman said.

Mossholder qualified for state in his third try. Last year, he dropped a 6-2 decision to Agnew in the ticket round.

“Once I got it I felt like a big monkey was off my back,” Mossholder said of qualifying for state, “and I went out and wrestled and I was glad to make it to the finals. Hopefully, it gives me a good draw and I can be on the podium (top eight) next week.”

Dedman (38-5) meets New Palestine’s Christian White (33-5) in the first round, while Mossholder (40-3) faces Hebron’s Ewan Donovan (36-2).

Rosman follows in the footsteps of older brother Craig Rosman, a two-time state qualifier who was part of the county’s 2005 contingent. Bradley Rosman is 41-2 after a third-place semistate finish and meets Hagerstown’s Jacob Combs (38-5) in the opening round.

The competition begins at 6 p.m. Friday and the winners return for the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The consolation round starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday with the state championship matches starting at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for each of the three sessions or $20 for the entire tournament.

Oak Hill High School has tickets available in its main office from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Thursday then from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday.