The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


Graduating from the mat

(Left to right) Taylor, McClure, Huckaby, Dale and Young pose for a picture following a senior year dual. Photo provided by Elizabeth McClure

Growing up in sports provides athletes with many benefits. One of the many advantages is the relationships they build with teammates and their families. For many of the seniors on the wrestling team, their relationship has been built since they first hit the mat. Ryan “RJ” Taylor Jr., Zack Huckaby, Jaylen Young, Jordan Dale and Jacob McClure have all grown up on the mat together.
Each of the boys joined the team at different times. For Young it was first grade, for McClure it was second, for Dale and Huckaby it was third and for Taylor it was fourth. From fourth grade onward, however, they were all in it together.
“It kinda just made everything easier,” McClure said. “If I wasn’t excited [to wrestle], thinking about just hanging out with my friends would get me excited for it.”
Although they joined the wrestling team at different times, their bond was also built through football. To the group of elementary schoolers, all the hard work was just seeing their friends all the time, and that only made their relationship stronger.

(Left to right) Huckaby, Young and McClure pose for a photo following a youth practice
Photo provided by Elizabeth McClure

“We were all on the Raptors together at the same time,” McClure said. “We were all playing football together and wrestling together so it made those friendships form easier.”
Playing other sports such as football not only provided the group life-long friendships but an advantage on the mat as well.
“I think [being a multi-sport athlete] is extremely important,” head coach Matt Schoettle said. “We wrestle all year ‘round, but it’s good for them to get away and do something else… to be the best school athletically that we can be, you’ve got to have multi-sport athletes.”
From fourth grade on, the boys have witnessed each other grow side by side, and seeing that growth offers some of the best memories for the group. “Just to see how they’ve all grown,” Young said. “How [Huckaby] was a little kid and how he’s grown since then, and [McClure] used to not be the big guy you see now… now he’s a really tough guy and I kinda look up to him.”
Huckaby also added to the thought of growth off the mat, “The ups and downs in each other’s lives and we’ve been there for all of it,” he said. “Just seeing it happen, and seeing each other get through it is really cool too.”
When the group entered high school together, they faced different challenges, but the coaching staff knew the talent they had.
“When they came in as freshmen I told them that they were the future of this team, and they have been,” Schoettle said. “The commitment that they have shown, they’re fun to be around and the dedication it’s been awesome.”

(Left to right) Taylor, Huckaby and McClure pose for a photo following a youth match
Photo provided by Elizabeth McClure

The success the group has seen has continued to grow throughout high school. Huckaby is a two-time state qualifier and Taylor joined him as a state qualifier during their junior year. During their senior year, the group blossomed with all five reaching the podium in the Mid-State tournament with Taylor, Huckaby, Young and McClure placing first. The group was also joined on the podium by fellow senior and Mid-State champion Hurai Lian. The success continued to sectionals with three Sectional championships by Taylor, Young and McClure as well as podium placements from Lian in second, Huckaby in second and Dale in third. The team sent seven total wrestlers to semi-state, including Huckaby who finished second in the 165 weight class and qualified for the state meet in Evansville, Indiana.
Being around a group as successful as they have been creates a winning environment that is not matched easily.
“I think the reason we are successful is because we are in it together,” McClure said. “No one person can claim all the fame or claim to be the best. I think we’re just all in there together, and we are all working together and we help each other get better.”
The feeling that comes with succeeding alongside each other, is something that exceeds succeeding alone.
“I feel like when I succeed I’m happy,” Taylor said. “But when I see my friends and teammates succeeding it’s a different feeling, it makes you happier.”
Although the group came in together as freshmen, two of the seniors had some extra help getting comfortable in the new environment. McClure and Dale joined their senior brothers, Jeff McClure and Jujan Dale on the team as well. The older brothers, both state qualifiers in their senior seasons, set the example for the younger group.
“It was kind of like a clash of worlds,” McClure said. “You had all my friends in there and Jeff started hanging out with my friends and we all kinda formed a bond.”
The group has taken a major leadership role for a team that has gone through many changes with the graduation of three-time state qualifier Keaton Morton and two-time qualifier Toby Billerman.

(Left to right) McClure, Taylor and Dale pose for a photo
Photo provided by Elizabeth McClure

“[We tell them] this is your team, we are just here to help you on the way. But take ownership of your team,” Schoettle said. “Their leadership has grown.”
The rarity of a solid group of leaders is something the team cherishes greatly, meaning when they move on, it leaves a gap on the team that cannot be filled easily.
“It scares me for next year because you’re not gonna find five or six guys like that, a senior group that sticks together, very often,” Schoettle said. “It scares me for next year because we don’t have that leadership in the young guys yet. We have to build it.”
Building that leadership starts with a good, strong core and the team has a solid group of young guys who could take the reigns as the leaders. Coach Schoettle listed names such as freshmen Colin Clark and Xavier Lambert, sophomores Peyton Brummitt and Seer Godwise, as well as juniors Bryce Beckham, Anthony Quarles, Dylan Merilus and Andy Warren all of whom he expects to take a step forward as leaders with the loss of the seniors.
As the seniors look to move on and go their separate ways, the connection they have built is something they wish to keep ahold of.
“It’s a little scary that I’m leaving them,” Young said. “But, at the same time, I’m still going to talk to them… It’s a little scary, but I think we’ll get through it.”
Huckaby and Young continue to Wabash College together after they graduate, each as student-athletes. Huckaby looks to wrestle at Wabash while Young plans to play football for the school. McClure, Taylor and Dale all finished up their wrestling careers as Falcons, not looking to continue on the mat following high school. McClure intends to attend Indiana State University and Taylor looks to go to trade school, while Dale remains undecided on his future.


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