FORT WAYNE – Since losing in the first round of the sectional as a freshman, Eastside heavyweight Matt Beard has gone to the state finals each year as a fan and come back with two souvenirs – a ticket stub and motivation.
Beard has improved the past two years but still hasn’t been able to make it past semistate, where Beard will return to Saturday as an undefeated wrestler (38-0) with a No. 11 state ranking.
I kept the ticket stub, and that’s always been my goal to make it there, Beard said of the state finals. After my freshman year, it was pretty rough and my parents told me it was an experience year, and you have to learn from your mistakes and move forward. My sophomore year came around, and I was a lot more successful and made it to semistate and same thing with last year, so this year I am hopefully pushing myself hard enough to make it to state.
Beard, who is 110-34 in his career, comes into the Snider Semistate at Memorial Coliseum on the heels of becoming the school’s first regional champion in 14 years at the Carroll Regional last week.
The losses the past two years at semistate have driven him this year to win every match and to continue his senior season, Eastside coach Joel Richman said.
My goal is to definitely make it through and be on top of the podium, Beard said. I want to go out with a bang my senior year and be very successful.
I haven’t wrestled anybody in the first two rounds of my bracket, so I am just going to go out there and wrestle like I have the whole year and see where it takes me.
It has all been a work in process, Richman said.
After his freshman year he made a commitment to improve, he said. He has wrestled in some offseason tournaments and went to camps to build his skill and confidence.
Matt has very good balance, strength and awareness on the mat. He works out with everyone in the practice room from lightweights to upper weights to help his stamina and speed.
Beard has been dealing with being a lighter heavyweight for the past four years and has learned to use other skills to offset any disadvantages. He weighs around 230, with the top of the heavyweight class going up to 285.
Going into my freshman year, I didn’t really like it that much but as the years have got going, I have started to like it a lot more because I am lot faster on my feet, he said of being underweight for the class. I have worked on my hips and being faster than the other guy. A lot other guys that I wrestle are a lot bigger than me, and you have to be faster on your feet and stay balanced. We have been working on things in practice for my balance and speed and quickness on my feet, and we will see how far that takes me.