February 11, 2022
Photo from Rocks Media House
Taking it to the mats - Braxton Vest (left) readies to take on his opponent.
Over the past decade and beyond, the Westfield wrestling program has been a melting pot for great talent within the state of Indiana. From the state-renowned Eldred brothers in the mid-2010s to other great state placers such as Liam Jagow and AJ Belden, it is clear that this school continues to pump out talent, year-in, and year-out. For senior wrestler Braxton Vest, the 2022 season provided him the opportunity to put his name in the same conversation as those other greats. Vest, coming off of an exceptional junior season that included him placing seventh in the state, credits his mindset for helping him get to where he has gotten so far.
“I think that constantly having a good mindset about it,” Vest stated, “being positive, and just keeping your mind right will lead you to the right places.”
As a senior this year, Vest has embraced the role of being a leader for his team.
“Our team has gone through some ups and downs this season,” Vest claimed. “[We have had] some injuries and other stuff outside, so I have been connecting with the underclassmen a lot this year, making sure that everything is good outside of wrestling.”
For the Westfield wrestling program, mentorship has continued to be a way for the upperclassmen to connect with the underclassmen. Porter Temples (9), one of Vest’s mentees, feels that Vest’s impact on him will set him up for future success in his next three years.
“I feel like he is very assertive, and he will teach you whenever you make mistakes,” Temples claimed. “He has helped me keep on track with my weight and just all of my moves.”
Vest has not only impacted his mentees during practices and matches but has made sure to go out of the way to help them in their everyday lives.
“I remember during the summer of 2021,” Temples noted, “we went go-karting together and we also went to Denny’s together after a meet.”
Thadeus O’Neill, another steadfast senior wrestler at Westfield, has had the chance to become very close to Vest over their four years together in the program. O’Neill appreciates Vest’s willingness to always be a competitor no matter what.
“He cares about everyone, he cares about the sport, he cares about just everything, in general, to make everyone better,” O’Neill stated. “He has been my practice partner for my whole high school career, so it will definitely be different doing workouts with different people once we are both gone next year.”
Vest’s leadership traits have not gone unnoticed. Head coach Phil Smith understands how critical Vest has been to the development of the program.
“He is a great lead-by-example kid,” Smith noted. “You know, what he does on the mat is what kids want to emulate. It is not just about his work ethic; it is his style, his wrestling, he is physical, mean, and he does things that look cool and that is kind of important for the sport. He does things that people want to watch. He is really slick and smooth with a lot of things that he does. [He] puts a guy in jeopardy, he makes him pay, so kids want to see that, fans want to watch it, and kids look up to him; kids want to be like him.”
Vest has continued to dominate the wrestling ranks as a senior. His current record for the season is 28-4, including nine technical falls, or wins by more than 15 points; however, Smith feels that Vest has a lot more to show as the team gets into the postseason.
“Braxton and I have the same goal and that goal is for Braxton to win a state title,” Smith said. “He has the ability [to do it]. There are a handful of guys that are pretty talented out there that we would have to wrestle our best, but on Braxton’s very best day at wrestling, I think that he is the best wrestler in the state.”
Vest shares that same ambition as his coach and is ready to go with sectionals coming this weekend.
“I am not completely satisfied with my performance, I would like to touch on a few things and prepare for the postseason,” Vest mentioned. “We just need to get our minds right heading into next week.”