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Elkhart Central wrestler Guerra uses speed, strength to make IHSAA State Finals

Eliseo Guerra has made big jumps in his Elkhart Central High School wrestling career. He placed fifth at sectional as a freshman, qualified for semistate as a sophomore and is now headed to the IHSAA State Finals as a junior.



Posted on Feb. 19, 2014 at 3:25 p.m.

ELKHART — At 5-foot-6 and about 214 pounds, Eliseo Guerra is far from the biggest wrestler in 220 weight class.

The Elkhart Central junior's lettermen jacket is emblazoned with the nickname "Chum Chum."

The handle comes from the Nickelodeon cartoon "Fanboy and Chum Chum." Older brother Martin, a Central senior soccer player and track athlete, is taller and slimmer like "Fanboy" while Eliseo is shorter and squattier like "Chum Chum."

The Blue Blazers' "Chum Chum" has taken his speed, stamina, strength, technique and work ethic and turned it into a spot in the IHSAA State Finals. The first round is at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

"I use my height to my advantage," says Guerra, who is 33-3 and coming off a runner-up finish at the Fort Wayne Semistate. "My stance is pretty low. It helps me to pick up legs and reach for ankles.

"I'm working with what the other wrestler gives me and I'm trying to be the aggressor."

Guerra may not have long legs, but he has managed to make big jumps during his high school mat career. He placed fifth at the Elkhart Sectional as a freshman, qualified for semistate as a sophomore and now he is State Finals-bound.

Central head coach Zach Whickcar, who often spars with Guerra in practice, said it is the wrestler's toughness and receptive attitude that sets him apart.

"He's always willing to be coached up," says Whickcar.

"I'm the wrestler I am today because of the coaching staff," says Guerra. "Every coach has something different to offer.

"It's good to have a lot of eyes on you."

Working with assistant Abraham Que, a 2011 state seventh-place finisher who is about 100 pounds lighter than Guerra, helps with quickness.

Live wrestling against assistant Dewey Young offers a combination of size, strength and quickness.

Assistant Frank Cockerham has been able to observe Guerra and point out the little things.

Two years ago, Central senior heavyweight Dominique Stauffer finished second at the State Finals. Then-freshmen Guerra worked out everyday in practice with "Neek."

"I looked up to him," says Guerra of Stauffer, who still occasionally comes to Blazers practice to help out.

Living in a six-person household led by Martin and Mayela Guerra that embraces athletics, Eliseo is a three-sport athlete. He was a defensive tackle and back-up fullback in football and he is a shot putter during the track season, His best heave is 46 feet, 5 inches.

Senior Martin Guerra, who is a student assistant to Whickcar at ECHS, is a soccer player and track athlete for the Blazers.

Freshman Katy Guerra and Monger Elementary sixth-grader Angel Guerra are also involved in sports and Monger first-grader Damian Guerra is being encouraged in that direction.

"(Brother) Martin set a very good example, keeping us straight in school and in sports," says Eliseo. "Sports, it keeps you on point."

Eliseo was born in Elkhart and raised in the Aguascalientes in central Mexico and came back to the U.S. as a third-grader because his parents "wanted a better opportunity for us."

An opportunity to learn a lesson about how sports can help was learned by Eliseo when he entered Pierre Moran Middle School.

"In seventh grade, I was a bad kid," says Eliseo. "I was going with the crowd. I got cut from the football team for bad grades. I didn't like how that felt.

"Sports are a very big motivation for grades."

That same year, he began wrestling for Pierre Moran coach Jeremy Satterfield and fell in love with the sport.

And now "Chum Chum" will step on the mat with Indiana's best.

 

IHSAA State Finals

(At Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)

Friday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 9:30 a.m. (quarterfinals and semifinals), 5 p.m. (consolations), 7:30 p.m. (championship).

Cost: $8 per session or $20 both days.

Web: www.IHSAAtv.org.

Area Qualifers

106: Drew Hildebrandt (Penn) 34-4. Class: Sophomore. Two-time state qualifier (eighth at 106 in 2013). Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (2). Career record: 75-20. First-round opponent: Nate Weimer (East Noble) 30-10.

Jaron Katzer (Goshen) 31-12. Class: Senior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (2); Regional (4); Semistate (4). Pins: 22. Takedowns: 31 (20 allowed). Escapes: 9. Reversals: 6. Career record: 31-12. First-round opponent: Jeremiah Reitz (Griffith) 41-1.

113: Austin Slates (Penn) 36-10. Class: Sophomore. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (3). Career record: 51-12. First-round opponent: Tyler Ferguson (Evansville Reitz) 53-1.

120: Forrest Glogouski (Fairfield) 41-2. Class: Senior. Two-time state qualifier (sixth at 113 in 2012). Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (2). Pins: 25. Takedowns: 110 (2 allowed). Near falls: 55. Career record: 163-11. First-round opponent: Jacob Cottey (Perry Meridian) 35-6.

DeLawrence Gayfield (Concord) 35-3. Class: Senior. Two-time state qualifier (sixth at 113 in 2013). Tournament finishes: Sectional (2); Regional (3); Semistate (3). Pins: 15 (through regional). Takedowns: 73 (6 allowed, through regional). Career record: 136-25. First-round opponent: Matthew McKinney (Warren Central) 33-5.

126: Zack Davis (Penn) 38-3. Class: Senior. Four-time state qualifier (sixth at 106 in 2012, second at 120 in 2013). Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (3). Career record: 165-39. First-round opponent: Quinton Harris (Avon) 28-12.

Tony Vaughn (Elkhart Memorial) 26-6. Class: Junior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (2). Pins: 9. Takedowns: 65 (15 allowed). Escapes: 18. Reversals: 13. Career record: 85-24. First-round opponent: A.J. Belden (Westfield) 34-9.

145: Ryan Baxter (Northridge) 30-4. Class: Senior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (2); Semistate (4). Pins: 6. Technical falls: 5. Takedowns: 61 (7 allowed). First-round opponent: Tommy Forte (Mishawaka) 23-1.

152: Alex Rinehart (Penn) 35-8. Class: Senior. Three-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (2); Regional (2); Semistate (4). Career record: 102-32. First-round opponent: Brendon Kelley (Evansville Central) 46-0.

160: Joey Mammolenti (Penn) 37-2. Class: Junior. Two-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (1). Career record: 79-14. First-round opponent: Maximilian Dole (East Central) 45-3.

170: Chase Osborn (Penn) 37-1. Class: Junior. Two-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (1). Career record: 89-25. First-round opponent: Keair Ross (Kokomo) 33-6.

182: Jeff Wiseman (Penn) 36-7. Class: Senior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (2); Regional (2); Semistate (2). Career record: 80-19. First-round opponent: Evan Elmore (Avon) 32-4.

Evan Smith (Goshen) 29-10. Class: Senior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (2); Regional (1); Semistate (4). Pins: 18. Takedowns: 38 (23 allowed). Escapes: 21. Reversals: 17. Career record: 81-36. First-round opponent: Blake Rypel (Indianapolis Cathedral) 44-1.

195: Tieshawn Johnson (Elkhart Memorial) 38-0. Class: Senior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (1). Pins: 19. Takedowns: 111 (3 allowed). Escapes: 12. Reversals: 3. Career record: 109-17. First-round opponent: Noah Schrader (Indianapolis Chatard) 25-2.

Kobe Woods (Penn) 39-3. Class: Sophomore. Two-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (2). Career record: 64-18. First-round opponent: Dakota Thacker (Bloomington South) 37-2.

220: Eliseo Guerra (Elkhart Central) 33-3. Class: Junior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (2). Pins: 23. Takedowns: 38 (6 allowed). Career record: 73-25. First-round opponent: Gunnar Larson (Avon) 31-7.

Clayton Stohler (Penn) 33-5. Class: Senior. First-time state qualifier. Tournament finishes: Sectional (1); Regional (1); Semistate (3). Career record: 79-30. First-round opponent: Seth Vaughn (Franklin Central) 33-2.



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