(Left) Greg Stultz lifts a Plainfield opponent, preparing for a takedown. Stultz was 4-1 on the afternoon. (Right) Stultz (left) and freshmen Chris Craft, who was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after going 5-0.
Northview freshman Chris Craft was already 4-0 Saturday afternoon as he prepared to face Plainfield's Wesley Patrick, the No. 2 ranked 125-pounder in the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association power poll who finished fourth last year in the IHSAA State Tournament.
"I was pretty nervous. I was pretty intimidated, but I thought if I wrestled hard I could beat him," Craft said.
The Northview Knights were in the same situation, as a team. They were 4-0 going into the final match of the Northview Invitational against undefeated Plainfield. Plus, the Knights knew they would forfeit three classes to Plainfield due to injuries and illness.
Craft overcame his nervousness, but the Knights couldn't overcome those 18-forfeit points. Plainfield won the Northview Invitational with a 5-0 record and Northview finished second at 4-1.
"Four and one is definitely a great day. It's about what I expected. I feel pretty good about it. I didn't expect to get beat that bad [59-9] by Plainfield," Northview coach Dan Mikesell said.
Craft, on the other hand, spotted Patrick's weakness about "five seconds" into the match and attacked. Craft scored a 6-2 decision over Patrick to finish 5-0 and was voted Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament by the coaches, officials and media.
"[Patrick] wasn't moving as much [in his stance]," Craft said.
The win over Patrick wasn't Craft's first surprise. He pinned defending Western Indiana Conference champion Matt Gross of South Vermillion in 1 minute, 37 seconds. Craft also pinned West Vigo senior Dan Wilson in 4:52 and Terre Haute North's Josh Loudermilk in just 32 seconds.
"That's a good accomplishment for a freshman. [Craft] beat a ranked kid from Plainfield. He beat the returning [Western Indiana] conference champ when I bumped him up to 130, so he had some quality wins today. He is most certainly deserving of the award today," Mikesell said.
Momentum toward a championship showdown with Plainfield built throughout the six-team tournament. Northview defeated Brown County 43-30 in the opening round, downed West Vigo 50-17 in the second round and pinned South Vermillion 67-12 in the third. The Knights overpowered Terre Haute North 48-30 in the fourth round to set up the championship match.
Plainfield beat the same teams by similar scores.
"We actually scored more points against Bloomington South [than we did against Plainfield], who was ranked second [in the Coaches Association poll] and I don't even know if Plainfield is ranked," Mikesell.
Plainfield was up 24-0 -- 12 forfeit points -- when Northview started a comeback. Beau Pingleton scored a 6-3 decision at 119 pounds, then Craft pulled off the upset over Patrick at 125. Plainfield led 24-6, but Northview had the momentum.
Then momentum shifted. Northview's Brian Griffin had Plainfield's John Flood on his back and nearly pinned. But Flood escaped and pinned Griffin and the momentum was gone. The Knights scored just three more points.
"[We] had a guy on his back and wind up losing the match. Wrestling is an individual sport, but getting a pin can definitely spark guys and that's where the team aspect comes into it. There is a team aspect and kids feed off of big wins. We had the big win at 125, then if we get that pin at 130 we might get on a roll. A lot of times that's what happens," Mikesell said.
Pingleton at 119, Zach Stultz at 135, Brandon Hathaway at 140, Tommy Herr-Smith and Rob Pasalich also finished with 4-1 records for Northview.
Austin Nicosin, who won 31 matches last year and came within one win of the semistate, continued his recovery from a chest injury, posting a 2-1 record on the day. He lost to Brown County in the first round, but earned wins over South Vermillion and West Vigo.
"It's been a tough beginning of the season. Hopefully [Nicosin] is starting to heal up. He made it through three matches today," Mikesell said.
Northview -- Northview 43, Brown County 30; Northview 50, West Vigo 17; Northview 67, South Vermillion 12; Northview 48, Terre Haute North 30; Plainfield 59, Northview 9.
Northview Knights' records
103 -- Nick Hensler 1-2
112 -- Forfeit.
119 -- Austin Nicosin 2-1
125 -- Beau Pingleton 4-1
130 -- Chris Craft 5-0
135 -- Zach Stultz 4-1
140 -- Brian Hathaway 4-1
145-152 -- Tommy Herr-Smith 4-1
160 -- Hank Weishaupt 2-3
171 -- Greg Stultz 5-0
189 -- Rob Pasalich 4-1
215 -- Jared Staley 2-3
HWT -- Brian Walden 1-4
Other team scores
Terre Haute North -- North 58, South Vermillion 18; Brown County 42, North 37; Plainfield 52, North 14; North 38, West Vigo 30.
West Vigo -- Plainfield 60, WV 15; Brown County 42, WV 36; WV 48, South Vermillion 33; Terre Haute North 38, WV 30.
South Vermillion -- Terre Haute North 58, SV 18; Plainfield 63, SV 18; West Vigo 48, SV; Brown County 57, SV 24.