Sectional time has arrived for the Northview wrestling squad and this year's version will be quite a lot different than last year's edition held at Northview High School.
The Knights took fourth place as a team last year as Terre Haute South advanced to regionals with the sectional title. But that title was won against just three other schools including North, West Vigo and the Knights. This year's Indiana High School Athletic Association changed sectional alignments, narrowing the number of sites from 64 to 32 which means competition just got much more difficult at each sectional site.
This Saturday, nine teams will converge upon Owen Valley High School for sectional competition beginning at 9:30 a.m. with the top four individuals from each weight class advancing to regionals.
Also new this year in sectionals will be the inclusion of wrestlebacks from the quarter-final round which will allow placings out to sixth place.
This year's sectional should include some stiff competition since Sullivan, Edgewood and Owen Valley will be added along with Bloomington North and South who should all compete for the team title along with West Vigo.
With the top four individuals advancing to regionals, the wrestlebacks for third and fourth places will be cutthroat with some weight classes featuring several top-notch grapplers.
Last season the Knights won three sectional titles with Justin Wilson winning at 189, Doug Porter at 152 and Austin Staley at 119. Derek Mroczek's second place at 130 moved him to regionals along with Nate DeVore and Chris Bray.
Wilson (24-9) is back to try and defend his title, but the road will be rocky to say the least with the state's second-ranked 189-pounder, Heath Van Deventer (33-0) from Bloomington South, looming on the opposite side of the bracket.
Wilson will open sectional action after a first round bye as the No. 2 seed with a match against Bloomington South's Michael Reschke (11-17 at 189).
Porter is the No. 4 seed at 160 pounds this year in one of the toughest brackets of the tournament.
Six competitors have 19 or more wins this season which gives Porter the unenviable job of beating West Vigo's Zach Thralls (21-4) in the first round with the winner to likely to get Bloomington North's Adam Steinmetz (24-10) in the second round.
At 130 pounds, Austin Staley (28-4) meets Terre Haute South's Nick Schaffer (4-8) in the opener but will see either Edgewood's Sean Kot (23-2) or West Vigo's Ryan Hewitt (20-10) in his second match with first round victory. Sullivan's Jade McCammon (26-3), the No. 1 seed and No. 12 ranked in the state is the favorite.
Mroczek is the No. 2 seed at 140 pounds and will take to the mat versus Bloomington North freshman Seth Teeters (9-22) with a possible meeting with No. 3 seed Jerrad Pirtle (22-5) of Sullivan up afterwards.
At 103 pounds, Northview freshman Austin Nicosin (22-8) will open against Sullivan sophomore Jonathan Burris (9-8) with a very experienced Josh Keen (24-9) of Bloomington North looming in a second round match. Keen, a junior, meets Terre Haute North freshman Michael Jenkins (5-13) in the first round.
The Knights will forfeit only the 112 pound class this year which should allow them to fare much better in the team standings considering they forfeited the 103, 112, 125 and 171 pound classes last year. Undefeated Wes Readinger of West Vigo is the top seed in the 112 class with a 30-0 record.
They'll get back into the wrestling action with Cory Grigsby who is the No. 2 seed at 119 pounds. Grigsby (17-4 at 119, 26-5 overall) will open with Edgewood's Kyle Woodard (7-13). With a win, Grigsby would face either Terre Haute North nemesis Paul McKee (25-6 at 119, 27-6 overall) or Bloomington North's Will Stahley (15-18).
Bloomington South's Tyler Goble is the top seed in the bracket and the seventh rated grappler in the state with a 31-3 mark.
Whitney King (4-13 at 125, 6-20 overall) has a tough opener at 125 pounds with a match versus No. 2 seed Paul Creasey (26-5) of West Vigo.
At 135 pounds, Northview senior Nelson Norton (6-6) opens against Bloomington North's Julius Hanks (10-22) in a match that could add some important team points for the Knights. With a win, Norton would likely see Sullivan senior Kevin Arnett (24-3) in the second round.
Owen Valley's Allen Weaver and Northview's Brent Withers (13-15) see first round action against each other at 145 pounds. This match could also add some position boosting team points for Northview.
At 152, Travis Harmon (9-19) will face Anthony Black (27-10) of Bloomington North the No. 2 seed and Jeremiah Allen (12-12 at 171, 14-12 overall) will face Terre Haute South's Carl Doner (5-3) in a first round match with the winner getting No. 2 seed Mike Collier (28-3) of Edgewood.
The heavyweight class will see Northview's Tom Lucas (16-17) against Joe Cooper (24-6) of West Vigo. Seventh ranked Rufus Pace of Terre Haute South (22-3) is the No. 1 seed on the other side of the bracket.
With a solid group of experienced wrestlers the Knights should place in the middle of a strong pack of teams this weekend. If they can pull some surprises along the way they might be able to jump into the upper echelon of team scores. Individually the Knights should send several wrestlers to regionals and could take home some championships as well. How their No. 2 seeds fare should go a long way in determining their team place.
Competition begins at 9:30 a.m. at Owen Valley High School.