Ty Henderson is a quiet young man who generally lets his performance on the wrestling mat due the talking.
As a freshman at Lincoln this past school year, and over the past several months with his wrestling club Maurer Coughlin, Henderson’s wrestling has been loud enough for many across the state to take notice.
Henderson’s highest achievement came in May, when he completed the Indiana State Wrestling Association’s Triple Crown, winning state championships in all three grappling styles. He’s also competed on the national stage, representing Team Indiana, and his big year culminates this weekend with the USA Wrestling Junior & 16U National Championship in Fargo, N.D.
The National Championship runs from Saturday through next Friday and features men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman, as well as women’s freestyle. The third style in which Henderson won a state championship was folkstyle, which is the style of IHSAA competition, but that won’t be contested this upcoming week.
Henderson, 15, said he’s been wrestling since he was about 5 years old. He joined and has trained with the Maurer Coughlin Wrestling Club of Evansville for several years. The club, founded by multi-time IHSAA state champions and Division-I wrestlers Blake Maurer and Matt Coughlin, has become one of the more prominent groups in the state.
Much of Henderson’s preparation for Nationals has been through Maurer Coughlin.
“I’ve had a couple of camps at Maurer Coughlin (recently), and I just did a Fargo camp in Fort Wayne for Team Indiana,” Henderson said. “I’ve just kind of been training, trying to keep in the groove, and cutting weight.
“I think I’ve been (with Maurer Coughlin) for four years. Some kids from Vincennes went there and said it was pretty good. My dad talked to the coaches, and I was in. I like it a lot, and I feel like they’ve helped me improve.
“I just like competing. Every match, you get to go out there and do your own thing, and the team results kind of come second. I like being able to go out there and do it for myself. That’s probably what I enjoy the most.”
Henderson, who wrestles at the lowest IHSAA weight class of 106 pounds, estimated about 60 or 70 participants are in his class at Nationals and noted he may have to win up to 10 matches — both in Greco and freestyle — in order to win a national championship.
“I want to be an All-American,” Henderson said of his goal at Nationals, which equates to a top-eight finish.
It’s certainly a difficult task Henderson is facing.
In June, Henderson represented Team Indiana at the 16U National Duals in Loves Park, Ill. In Greco-Roman matches, Henderson went 3-4, and in freestyle, he was 3-5, with all of his wins by tech fall. As a team at Nationals, Indiana went 3-4 in Greco and 6-2 in freestyle.
“I wrestled four or five state champions there,” Henderson said. “The team didn’t do amazing, but I think we wrestled like 17 matches. It’s tough (wrestling up to six matches in one day). When it’s competitive matches like this, the match usually goes the full time. You get real tired by the end.
“But when it’s locally, most of the time I pin them,” Henderson said with a grin.
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Henderson also got the opportunity in May to wrestle in Las Vegas at the U.S. Open Wrestling Championships, where he finished 4-4, but his major successes have come at the local and state level.
In March at the ISWA Folkstyle State meet at Warren Central, Henderson went 5-0 to win the championship, and he was only tested in the final, racking up three pins and a major decision in the semifinal. Henderson had a bye at the ISWA Freestyle State at Avon in May, but he cruised to a 4-0 mark and a second championship with three pins and a tech fall.
The next day, Henderson completed the Triple Crown, going 4-0 to earn the ISWA Greco-Roman state crown, which included two pins and two tech falls.
“I wrestled five matches (at folkstyle state) and pretty well destroyed everybody up until the finals. The finals was a tough match,” he said. “Freestyle and Greco weren’t too bad. It was kind of nice because I only had to weigh-in once, and cutting weight is always kind of tough.
“Winning the Triple Crown was pretty cool, and I think I may have been the first kid from Vincennes to do it.”
After the Nationals next week, Henderson’s next big event is the IndianaMat Hoosier Preseason Open (IHPO) at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne on Sept. 11, and then the focus shifts to the high school season.
Henderson went 32-7 as a freshman for the Alices, and he was one win away from earning a top-four spot at the semistate required to make the state finals.
He added a runner-up finish at the Frosh-Soph state finals in late February.
Evansville Mater Dei’s Isaiah Schaefer, a teammate of Henderson’s at Maurer Coughlin, was a thorn in Henderson’s side throughout the year, dealing Henderson four of his defeats.
“We had a memorable match in the regional finals,” Henderson said. “I was winning, I think 6-3, going into the third period, and I’d never been up on him. He’d tech-falled me every time. But then he took me down and he pinned me. I got a little better every time I faced him, and I think I figured some things out that helped me in that last match.”
The good news for Henderson is that while Schaefer didn’t graduate, he is moving up to at least 113 pounds, as staying at 106 is always a challenge for high school wrestlers as they get older.
It’s a challenge Henderson could face as soon as this upcoming season, but he’s optimistic he can maintain at 106. After getting so close to the state finals as a freshman, Henderson’s sophomore goal is clear.
“I at least want to make it to state,” he said. “If I’m at 106 again, the goal is to be a state champion. (Wrestlers from) Brownsburg and Avon are tough, but southern Indiana doesn’t have too much (at 106), though Washington has a decent kid.”
Bringing home Lincoln’s second IHSAA wrestling state championship would certainly be loud statement from the soft-spoken Henderson.