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The Big Stage

By KATRINA BRANSON - kbranson@shelbynews.com

Making the transition from middle school wrestling to high school is a challenge, but Shelbyville freshman Dillon Berry has proved he is plenty capable.

The freshman (106 pounds) placed third at the sectional hosted by the Golden Bears on Jan. 27 to advance him to the Perry Meridian Regional on Feb. 3.

At the regional, Berry placed fourth to earn a spot at semistate this Saturday hosted by New Castle. Although he's admittedly nervous, Berry has been progressing from the beginning of the season. He has made the necessary adjustments needed when moving from middle school wrestling to high school.

“I was definitely nervous coming from the middle school and competing at the high school level,” Berry said. “I think I have improved from last year, I'm a lot faster on my feet. The biggest difference I've seen is that at the high school level kids are a lot stronger. I feel pretty good, but I'm very nervous.”

As semistate approaches, Shelbyville head coach Adam Miller has been doing what he can to prepare the freshman.

“Coach Joe has had him working on front headlocks and just his movement and being in control,” Miller said. “I mean at this level coming up you don't want to be sloppy, you want to be sure that your finishing all your moves and that you know what's going on and transitioning to each move well. You also want to be sure your responsive to your opponent, when he moves you move.”

Advancing to state will be no easy task.

“He has to win his first two matches to advance to state,” explained Miller. “So, if we win the first one and lose the second one, we don't go. You have to win the first two to move on. So it's pretty exciting. The first round is nerve wrecking and then the second round if you make it to that, they call it the ticket round. It's pretty intense.”

Miller said Berry is handling the pressure well.

“He really is handling it well to be honest,” he said. “I think yesterday's practice was kind of that eye opener of wow, 'I'm that close'. As the weeks progress your practice and their intensity gets a little bit harder. As coaches, we start to pin point things that when we have the team you can't really do, but now when your that one individual you have coaches just looking at you and telling you what to do. He's handling it very well for a freshman, and it's just Dillon being Dillon.”

Berry has improved greatly throughout the season, and Miller is excited to see what he can accomplish this weekend.

“I think he's improved definitely on listening and just wrestling free,” Miller said. “He's starting to open up and hit things that we know he can hit. He's progressed really well as a freshman coming in from the middle school.”

Although it will be difficult the freshman has his sites set on state, which is held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. 

“I hope to win the first two rounds and hopefully advance to state,” said Berry.

Berry will be facing tough competition going against South Dearborn's Eli Otto (23-3) in the first round. If he wins, Berry will then face either Carmel's Suhas Chundi (29-7) or Lawrence Central's Antonio Jefferson (30-10).

The New Castle Semistate will be Saturday morning with the first round beginning at 9 am.

Katrina Branson is a Sports writer for The Shelbyville News. Follow Katrina on Twitter @k_b527.