Center Grove Wrestling State Champions Wyatt Krejsa, Nate Johnson & Charlie LaRocca. Photos by Beth Krejsa and Provided

Trojan True – Center Grove State Champs

Wrestling Season Concludes with Three State Champs, Team State Runner-Up

Three Center Grove High School (CGHS) seniors ended their high school wrestling careers at the Ford Center in Evansville as state champions. Charlie LaRocca became the second two-time state champ from CGHS, winning the 120-pound weight division this year and the 113-pound weight class last season. LaRocca said as a state defending champ, he had a target on his back, and as a result, a rough start to his season.

“I had to find the confidence in me that carried me through the state series last year,” said LaRocca. “It was more of a confidence issue than a technique issue. I found my confidence and I put it all together, and had another good state run and another state title.”

After a second-place finish last year, Wyatt Krejsa took the blue ribbon in the 150-pound weight class in his final season. Krejsa reflected on his emotions on the mat once he knew he was a state champ. “It proved all the work I put in was worth it,” said Krejsa.

The Trojans needed a fall in the final bout to overtake Crown Point for second place in team points. Nate Johnson did just that, earning his first state title, pinning his opponent in the first period, and giving his team the state runner-up trophy for the second year in a row.

Johnson said he was wrestling for himself, his team and his mother, Julie, who passed away after a long battle with cancer in October of 2020.

“I’m glad I got this done for her,” said Johnson. “I really appreciate her looking after me like a guardian angel.”

The senior class was a big part of history, helping CGHS win its first state trophies as runners-up the past two seasons, and its first and only Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title in 2022.

“It’s been the most fun as a coach the past six years, specifically with the seniors,” said Head Coach Maurice Swain. “We have the next group that’s coming up. We have the same goals and we’re going to do the same work.”

“It’s a dynasty right now, and next year and the year after that,” said Krejsa. “We’re still loaded with talent and we’re going to continue to compete for state titles.”

Center Grove Boys Swimming and Diving placed ninth in the state finals.

A State Champ in Boys Swimming; Team Finishes Ninth in State Finals

The CGHS boys swimming and diving team’s season culminated with sophomore Henry Lyness winning the state title in the 100 backstroke at the IU Natatorium, with a school-record time of 48.06. Lyness is the third Trojan swimmer to win a state championship in boys swimming.

“When I finished the race and saw I had won, I couldn’t stop smiling,” said Lyness. “I was so happy. My friends and coaches on the deck were jumping up and down, and then I looked up in the stands and saw my parents, brother and friends. My coaches, my family and friends helped me a lot. On the days I didn’t want to be at practice, they pushed me through and reminded me of my goals.”

CGHS Head Coach Brad Smith has been coaching high school swimming and diving for more than 30 years, and Lyness was his first male swimmer to win state.

“He deserved it so much for the work he put into it,” said Smith. “We spent a lot of time preparing him. I knew how much he worked, and how much it meant to him. To know he had reached his goal was such a precious moment for us to celebrate.”

The boys team placed ninth in the state meet and the girls placed seventh.

“Individually our [boys and girls] swims at the state meet were phenomenal,” said Smith. “We have a great foundation to build from for the next couple of years.”

Here are CGHS’s other top performances in the state finals, which also earned all-state honors:
● 100 butterfly – Henry Lyness, sixth place
● 400 freestyle relay – Max Hite, Anthony Cuadros, Mason Bridges, Henry Lyness, eighth place

Center Grove Girls Basketball Sectional Champs.

Girls Basketball Season Ends One Game Shy of State Finals; Three Players Named to Indiana All-Star Team

The Center Grove girls basketball team ended the season with a 27-2 record, the most wins in school history. The Trojans bid for a state finals appearance ended with a loss in the semi-state finals to eventual state champion Lawrence Central. CGHS won four championships this season – regional, sectional, county, and the Carol Tumey Holiday Tournament. Center Grove Head Coach Kevin Stuckmeyer was extremely proud of the team’s efforts.

“We were led by a tremendous group of juniors and seniors that excelled both on the court and off because of their leadership and consistency,” said Stuckmeyer. “We were made up of an incredible group of individuals that accepted and excelled at their roles, developed exceptional team chemistry, and played at such a consistently high level every time they stepped out on the basketball court. Their competitiveness, consistency, team culture and unselfishness will shine through for many years to come. They were not only such high-level basketball players, but such tremendous people both on and off the floor. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone for their efforts, and am extremely grateful that they were able to exemplify their championship traits through their team successes.”

Three Center Grove starters were named Indiana all-stars. Rachel Wirts and Audrey Annee were named to the Indiana senior all-star team and Lilly Bischoff was named to the Indiana junior all-star squad.

Center Grove Boys Basketball Regional Champions.

Boys Basketball Wins Regional and Sectional Titles

The Center Grove boys basketball team began the season with a 3-3 record. Since the slow start, the Trojans have been one of the hottest teams in the state, winning regional, sectional and county championships, and ending the regular season with a 17-4 record and 11 straight wins. The Trojans won their 17th sectional title with a 71-30 victory over Martinsville. CGHS avenged a one-point overtime home loss during the regular season to Franklin with a 68-56 victory in the regional finals. CGHS Head Coach Zach Hahn has won five sectional titles and two regional titles, the most in school history. Senior sharpshooter Joey Schmitz has set the school record for most threes in a season, eclipsing the previous record of 67. Schmitz has hit 82 threes following CGHS’s regional championship win.

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