Cortland Elementary student shines on wrestling mat

A fourth-grader from Cortland Elementary School has dominated mats across the state this year.

While Clinton Shepherd has three championships to his name thus far into the new year, the most recent trophy means the most.

On March 11, Shepherd was crowned Indiana State Wrestling Association Folkstyle State Champion in the intermediate 80-pounds class at Warren Central High School.

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Shepherd won all of his matches by decision.

Leading up to the finals, Shepherd defeated Warren Wrestling Academy’s Kendall Starks 2-1, Job Richman (unaffiliated) 6-0 and TUF Wrestling Club’s Rylee Biddle 4-1.

Against Floyd Wrestling Club’s Hunter Banet, for the title, Shepherd won by 4-0 decision.

Clinton’s father, Joey, can always be found on the mat while his son is wrestling.

“He was heavy on the head and kept his feet and hands moving,” Joey said. “He did everything he needed to do as far as letting anyone get to his legs.

“He was heavy on the head and kept his feet and hands moving. He did everything he needed to do as far as letting anyone get to his legs.”

The tournament marked the first state title for Shepherd. He finished fifth two years ago and in the top-16 in 2017.

“It felt really good,” Clinton said. “I want to thank God for giving me his talent. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without God.

“I thought I had really good technique. I felt pretty confident. I knew that I could get first.”

Three of the four wrestlers that Shepherd competed against finished on the podium — in the top-eight — by the day’s end.

Shepherd currently trains out of Invicta Wrestling Academy in New Albany. Isaac Knable, a four-time state champion in Kentucky and former Indiana University wrestler, runs the academy and coaches Shepherd.

“(Knable) has been huge in Clinton’s development, as far as getting him to the next level,” Joey said. “We also wrestle with Justin Ratliff and his son, Asher. Asher is a stud, he’s a really good wrestler. They have been partners the past two years.”

Shepherd also has won the Brownsburg Folkstyle Open and Carmel USA Dan Nelson Folkstyle this year while placing in the top-three at both the Indy Nationals and Diesel City Championship. He has a record of 28-5, according to

Next up for Shepherd is the HYWY State Championships. Last season, Shepherd was runner-up in the event.