Covered in sweat, redshirt senior Josh Kieffer finished Monday’s practice keeping his eye on the goals he has set for his final season with the Greyhound wrestling program. The Saturday prior to practice, Nov. 14, the University of Indianapolis wrestling team traveled to St. Louis, Mo. competing in the Kaufman Brand Open.
Josh, a two-time All-American and a three-time National Qualifier, hopes to continue his successful tournament runs.
“I want to win another regional title this year. That’d be pretty awesome because there aren’t that many people who have won two,” he said. “I’d love to make it to Nationals for the fourth time and do better than sixth. I would hope to win it, obviously, but doing better than sixth is my goal.”
A week after Josh’s Monday practice, him and the wrestling team traveled to St. Charles, Mo. to compete at the Joe Parisi Open.
Josh, and redshirt sophomore Neal Molloy each competed in the Gold brackets for the Hounds.
Molloy went 5-2 on the day with a pair of tech falls, and fell 8-4 in the third place match. Josh also finished the day at 5-2, but took fifth after battling back following a quarterfinal loss.
In the Black bracket, freshman Jordan Collins went 5-1 on his way to a third-place finish in the 184 weight class. Redshirt freshman Dylan Faulkenberg also took third, but in 285. He went 6-1 on the day with four wins coming from pins.
Wrestling in the elite 125-weight class, Josh went 2-1 to finish second overall in St. Louis at the Kaufman Brand Open.
Sophomore Brian Wagner took the 197 title in the amateur division at the open, winning by a 16-0 tech fall. Faulkenberg took the second title for the Greyhounds in the 285 amateur division, besting his opponent 5-4 in the championship match. Both Wagner and Faulkenberg went 4-0 on the day.
The Greyhounds are currently ranked 15th in the nation, according to the Division II Wrestling Coaches’ Association Poll. Head Coach Jason Warthan credits a few of the veterans on the team for the ranking and also recognizes the capability of the rest of the team as well.
“Our lightweights are kind of why we are ranked, which is our 125, 133 and 141 [Josh, redshirt sophomore Nick Crume and redshirt senior Justin Kieffer, respectively]. Those guys have all been in the National tournament, and Josh and Justin are both All-Americans, so they both know what it takes to win at this level. So for those guys, returning to Nationals and climbing that podium, I think, is very realistic,” Warthan said. “As far as everyone else goes, I think we have a lot of talent. There are some really young guys, so there is still a lot of growing to do. We’re still learning what they do well and how we can help them by teaching them things that complement what they are already good at. There is a lot of talent in the room, and I’m excited to see how it all comes together when we start team competitions.”
This is not the first National ranking for the Greyhounds, as they have had several National Qualifiers each year and earned their first regional title during the 2013-2014 season. Warthan acknowledged the work of the coaches but said the recruitment of goal-oriented wrestlers has been the key element in the program’s success.
“If they are here with goals—and that goes as far as wrestling goals and academic goals—if they’re here for the right reasons, and they have goals to be All-Americans or National champions, then they push each other. They’re committed to doing things the right way, and so it all just breeds success,” Warthan said.
Josh not only has his goals pushing him forward, but also his brothers. Josh’s twin, Justin, and redshirt sophomore Joe Kieffer practice and compete together every day. Joe took a hiatus from wrestling for several years due to an illness and recently returned to the mat. Josh said they have been wrestling together for about 15 years.
“It’s awesome [wrestling with my brothers]. They push me and drive me to do and get better each day. My twin brother [Justin] pushes me a little bit more. He’s my drill partner and gets me ready for my matches,” he said.
Both Justin and Josh also have stepped up and become team leaders as seniors, although Warthan said they prefer to lead by their actions rather than by their words.
“They all take different roles. Josh has done a really great job at stepping up and being vocal as a senior and leader in the room. I know that doesn’t always make him comfortable, but he has done a much better job at stepping up and taking the leadership role. He tells the guys how much it means to him for them to be there,” Warthan said. “All of those guys work really hard. So leading by example is something I believe they would rather do than speak up, but they have done a really great job. We also have young coaches who have stepped up and have taken that leadership role as well.”
The Hounds will host the 56th Annual Little State on Dec. 6, at a time to be determined.