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Tuesday, Nov. 28
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

Senior trades spotlight for loyalty

Senior Scott Kelly lifts teammate Junior Nick Walpole for a body slam during practice on Tuesday afternoon at the University Gymnasium.

Every team has its role-players – athletes who are committed, but rarely see the spotlight of competition.

The No. 18 IU wrestling team is no exception.

The Hoosiers (15-7-1, 2-5-1) head into the Big Ten Tournament next month relying on the preparation that will ready grapplers like No. 5 Angel Escobedo, No. 13 Kurt Kinser and No. 15 Trevor Perry for the competition in collegiate wrestling’s toughest conference.

Those names are familiar, but what about the unsung heroes who grind it out on the mat each day for the sake of the team, not getting the media and fan hype more notable wrestlers receive?

Scott Kelly, a senior and 141-pound member of the IU wrestling team, knows all too well.

Kelly, a native of Carmel, Ind., and four-year member, rarely competes in meets but practices regularly.

Many would wonder what would make a former Carmel High School state champion like Kelly put in the work and sweat for no chance at competition.

Kelly said his payback is anything but nonexistent.

“I love Indiana, and I love this school,” Kelly said. “I always knew I wanted to wrestle because of the lessons it taught me and because I loved it.”

Going undefeated his senior year at Carmel, the former Greyhound could have gone to a smaller school and held a bigger role throughout his four years, but his love of IU and the wrestling coaches landed him in Bloomington.

“The coaching staff here treated me better than any other school did throughout the recruiting process,” Kelly said. “The guys here are role models, and I thought to myself that they are people I want to be like when I grow up.”

That’s not to say there were never bumps in the road for Kelly, but the family-like atmosphere of everyone in the IU athletic department, as well as the lessons wrestling taught him, kept him going through the tough times.

“All of the athletes here have always been great to me, and I’ve made so many friends,” Kelly said. “I had to keep going for them.”

This past December, Kelly’s payoff came through the pride he had in his school, peers and the respect he earned. That is when the unexpected came his way.

At the Midlands tournament over winter break in Evanston, Ill., Kelly competed for the Hoosiers and placed eighth in his weight class, aiding IU in a fifteenth-place finish. The win at the Midlands only reinforced Kelly’s belief that one has to look at the big picture when tempted to quit or focus solely on the wins and losses.

Just last week, Andrae Hernandez, Kelly’s practice partner, upset No. 2 Alex Tsirtsis of unbeaten Iowa in the 141-pounds matchup, and Goldman said he felt Kelly played a large part in it.

“He’s pushed Andrae very, very hard, and it has really helped him. I think he has put the work in and has really become the best wrestler he can be,” IU coach Duane Goldman said.

Goldman said Kelly’s contributions to the IU wrestling program are invaluable.

“The thing Scott brings is inspiration through his work ethic,” he said. “We know we’re always going to get a solid effort from him.”

Kelly said wrestling has given him more than he has given the sport.

“The harder you work, the more directly it will impact your success,” he said, “and that’s something I’ll always carry with me.”

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