The Jim Tonte era starts for Franklin wrestling in, of all places, the school auditorium.
In an attempt to literally shine a different light on his sport, Tonte arranged to have the Grizzly Cubs host Jeffersonville in an event called “Rage on the Stage.”
Weigh-ins begin at 4:30 p.m., with the match against the Red Devils starting at 5:30 p.m. on the auditorium stage.
“We were going to do this at other schools. We toyed with wrestling out on the football field, but it’s always in November and you can never predict the weather,” said Tonte, who coached Perry Meridian to three consecutive team state championships (2011-13) and led Warren Central to the summit in 2016.
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“I’ve always been a guy who likes to hype up the sport. I want these kids to have some memories of high school, make the sport fun and let people get excited.”
Tonte, whose 19-year run at Perry Meridian also included three state runner-up finishes in the team standings, said the big screen behind the stage will be complemented by smaller ones on the sides. Those will update spectators on the score of the match taking place, as well as the team score.
Another highlight is each Grizzly Cub wrestler has chosen his own walk-up music to be heard as he enters the stage. A light show is also being planned, and Tonte hopes to recognize those former Franklin wrestlers present.
As for the current Grizzly Cubs, they can’t wait.
“Ah, man, they’re pumped,” Tonte said. “I’ve been around this sport for a long time and been all over the country, and this is something you don’t see every day. I imagine after I do this that we’ll be seeing it a little bit more.”