Brock Ellis spent the summer watching behind-the-scenes college wrestling videos.
The Chesterton junior noticed something. At the next level, people don't consider their opponent’s feelings. Nobody even thinks about their practice partner’s body aches or emotions.
“Nobody cares. He’s going to go as hard as he can to improve (both) himself and you. It’s about getting into that mentality of not feeling sorry for yourself because nobody really cares, at the end of the day,” Ellis said.
Ellis said it took some time to develop that kind of outlook. He said he didn’t really embrace being a not-so-nice guy on the mat until this season.
Trojans coach Chris Joll doesn’t believe him. He’s seen the look in Ellis’s eye when he’s down in a match.
“Since he’s been with me at the high school, I’ve never seen him care a whole lot about what the other guy thinks about him,” Joll said. “It’s kind of like this: If you get up by three touchdowns, what’s the sense in scoring another one? Well, Brock’s running it up on the other guy. He just doesn’t care. He might think he remembers it one way, but that’s not how I remember it at all.”
That mindset isn’t what makes him great, though.
Joll said what sets Ellis apart is his work ethic and attention to detail. Those things come through in things like being a good teammate and a role model for the younger wrestlers or helping Joll and some of the other older guys in the room run practice the right way.
As a result, Ellis is ranked No. 1 in the state at 145 pounds by Indiana Mat as the season begins.
“The ranking doesn’t mean anything except maybe a bigger target on my back because everybody wants to beat the No. 1 guy. I’m excited. I love it. I want anybody and everybody to come after me and try to wrestle me as hard as they can,” Ellis said. “I want to show everybody that it’s not just a fluke or a one-point match. I want to make everybody know that they got beat, don’t leave any ifs, ands or buts.”
If all goes to plan, Ellis will make a third trip to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse for the state meet.
“A lot of guys can beat the crap out of you but when they wrestle someone tough, they kind of crumble. They know how to overwhelm guys who they’re better than but don’t know how to close the gap on guys that are to their ability,” Joll said. “Brock’s wrestled enough of those matches since he was 12 or 13 that he knows what it takes. He does the right things to beat the right guys and he just absolutely hates to lose.”
The aim during his freshman year was to qualify for state. Last season, he accomplished his objective to be on the podium, finishing fourth. This year, the target is clear.
“My goal is to be a state champion,” Ellis said. “My mentality is not just to be able to place (at state), but to really dominate everybody.”