INDIANAPOLIS – Three Wawasee High School wrestlers earned the right to climb the awards podium at the IHSAA State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

How high they get to climb will be determined today.

In Friday’s must-win-or-go-home first round before 9,827 screaming fans, Wawasee sophomore Jace Alexander (120 pounds) and senior teammates Geremia Brooks (132) and Braxton Alexander (138) were all triumphant to advance to the quarterfinals, slated for 9:30 a.m. today.

Jace Alexander pinned Norwell senior Kade Zadylak in 5:17.

Alexander led 8-4 after two periods and was ahead 12-9 before putting Zadylak away.

Alexander, who fought cramps throughout the match, chose to start in the down position for the final period.

“He would have to hold me down and waste time and I could get out from the bottom and score the extra points,” said Alexander, who was a state qualifier at 106 pounds in 2018 and came into Friday’s match after placing third at the East Chicago Semistate.

Brooks edged Evansville Mater Dei senior Clay Egli 5-3 in overtime.

Brooks trailed 2-1 after one period and 3-1 after two.

The match went to extra time tied a 3-all. Brooks won in sudden victory with a takedown.

Brooks credited Egli for his ability to tie him up and fend him off during the match. At the end, he fought through the tie and went for a double-leg takedown.

“I was trying to muscle it up,” said Brooks. “I shot the corner and scored.”

Brooks placed seventh at 132 in 2018.

Braxton Alexander pinned Centerville sophomore Gabe Phillips in 4:34.

Alexander was ahead 4-0 after one period and 8-4 at the end of two.

Alexander talked about capitalizing on Phillips’ mistakes.

“He didn’t want to fight off his back very well,” said Alexander. “He had very bad hip pressure. I took advantage of that.

“That’s just something I noticed during the match. I had never wrestled him or even studied him this week.”

Braxton Alexander finished sixth at 120 in 2017.

By advancing to the second day of the tournament, Wawasee is guaranteed of pushing its all-time number of state placers to 25. The Warriors have had 43 state qualifiers with five state champions. The first was Brad Traviola in 1986.

Manchester senior Delton Moore (170) lost 8-0 to Mishawaka junior Joseph Walker.

Moore, who came in as a third-place finisher at the Fort Wayne Semistate, trailed 2-0 at the end of the first period. He finished his final prep season at 35-7 and his career at 128-27. Moore was also a state qualifier at 170 pounds in 2018.

By making it to state this year, the Byron Sweet-coached Moore became the Squires’ 19th state qualifier all-time. Manchester’s lone state champion was Norman Hudson in 1973.