Crown Point junior Anthony Rinehart obviously found the right number.
“It’s a perfect weight,” he said.
A different number posed problems for Rinehart last year, but no such obstacles have affected him this season.
Rinehart (29-3) is one of seven Crown Point wrestlers who won at the East Chicago Semistate on Saturday. He finished first in the 165-pound weight class as the Bulldogs won their third straight team semistate title and fifth in six years. They will compete at the state meet in Evansville beginning Friday.
None of Rinehart’s losses this season came against wrestlers from Indiana, explaining why he remains the top-ranked wrestler in the state at 165 by IndianaMat. Among those defeats was a match against Joe Sealey, a senior at Wyoming Seminary of Pennsylvania who is ranked No. 2 in the nation by FloWrestling.
“Most of our top guys have losses on their record, but they’ve come against nationally ranked guys,” Rinehart said. “It’s about staying confident in the process and staying positive. With the competition we’ve dealt with, we’re not going to see much more than what we’ve already seen.”
Rinehart is no stranger to the competition at the state meet. As a freshman at Zionsville, he went 42-4 and placed seventh in the state at 152. But he moved to Crown Point that summer and found a stacked lineup that meant he had to stay in that weight class for another season.
“There was no going up,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a big weight cut, and it was just tough all year, going up and down. The week of regionals, it just got to a point where it was so much that I couldn’t get it off.”
Rinehart was 23-4 after winning the sectional title at 152, but he said his weigh-ins the following week suggested trouble. Those warnings offered little solace for Rinehart when he couldn’t make weight at the regional, ending his sophomore season.
“It was tough for me because I’d put in so much time and I felt like I let my brothers down,” he said.
Crown Point still won the team state title last February. Watching that success from the sidelines provided Rinehart all the motivation he needed for offseason training.
“I definitely had a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “It was a long summer. It felt like I was trying to move past it, but I also kept that thought in the back of my mind that I had something to prove next year.”
Crown Point senior Kaptur Nowaczyk has noticed. He raved about how much fun it is to hang out with Rinehart outside of wrestling but said it’s a different story on the mats.
“It’s annoying,” Nowaczyk said with a laugh. “It’s like an unwritten rule that you don’t shoot on him because you’re not going to score. He’s a really intense guy in practice. He really goes after it, and it motivates all of the other guys in the room to work hard.”
Rinehart’s pursuit of his first state title has held his attention, according to Crown Point coach Branden Lorek.
“He’s been focused all season,” Lorek said. “He’s been down to state, he knows he belongs down there and he knows what he needs to do. He just has to stay focused, stay disciplined, and he’ll get his opportunity.”
Rinehart said he has been dreaming about that opportunity for a long time.
“It’s one of my biggest goals,” he said. “I’ve been imagining myself winning a state title since I was 7 years old.”
Dave Melton is a freelance reporter.