Times Sports Editor
Northview isn't really used to playing the underdog role at the Western Indiana Conference wrestling tourney, but on paper, that will be their role today at South Vermillion High School.
The Knights are the owners of four straight conference championships and are looking to add a fifth trophy, but the Edgewood Mustangs are standing in the way.
Edgewood holds five No. 1 seeds to the Knights' two, but coach Dan Mikesell feels his team is concentrating on overcoming what might be a bit of a disadvantage.
"For the most part our kids are really focused on winning," said Mikesell. "Beau Pingleton is practicing well and doing his best to keep the team focused on winning. Our backs are against the wall and we will need a great effort on Saturday to pull it off."
Pingleton is actually a No. 2 seed to Edgewoo's Steve Spicer who owns a 35-3 mark overall this season. Spicer earned a 3-1 win over Pingleton earlier in the year that was part of the Mustangs 39-27 win over the Knights in a dual match.
"We are really looking forward to meeting up with Spicer again," mentioned Mikesell. "I was shocked he lost on Wednesday (at Bloomington South). I don't see that playing into our match. Beau has confidence and will just have to wrestle hard and out hustle him.
The lineups have been shuffled a bit for the postseason, but Mikesell points out that the team's are pretty evenly matched.
"I believe we are putting our best line up out there," said Mikesell. "Edgewood has made some adjustments as well, so really we are pretty even on paper."
Several pivotal early round matches could change the momentum of the tournament as Northview wrestlers will meet up with Edgewood competitors during the early stages of the tournament. Wins in some of those matches will be key for the Knights in gaining valuable team points.
At 103 pounds, Skyler Hall could see the Mustangs' A.J. Kerr (26-12) in the second round. Kerr won the earlier round match by fall. Kyle McCoy, a No. 3 seed for the Knights could see Edgewood's Jeremy Salyers (31-7) in the second round. Brown County's Zach Wojdyla is the top seed and ranked fifth in the state.
Senior Jared Staley has been wrestling well recently and will be counted on at 215 pounds where he matches up with West Vigo's Ryan Childers in the opening round with Will Heston looming in round two.
Chandler Coffey of Brown County is the top seed and is ranked 15th in the state.
"Winning all three of those would be huge," said Mikesell. "We anticipate match ups in the finals of 119, 140, 171 and 189. So we need to win two of those."
Northview's top seeds, Zach Stultz (152 pounds) and Tom Herr-Smith (160) will be counted on to reach the finals. Stultz receives a bye in the opening round while Herr-Smith will take on Michael Hill of Owen Valley in the first match.
Luke Pingleton is the No. 2 seed and will take on Roy Adams of Sullivan in the first round. However a potential match-up with Brown County's seventh-ranked Mitchell Ritchey is a
Possible highlight match-up.
"Luke will have to be careful to watch out for his cradle," said Mikesell of Ritchey. "I am anticipating a great match. Mitchell is a great kid and an awesome wrestler. Luke has been training really hard and I am sure we will get a great effort from him. That is really all I can ask. I know he is close to that level of wrestling and this could be a breakout match for him."
The Knights are counting on big efforts from their freshmen who could be the difference in this meet.
"We need some of our freshmen to really step up," commented Mikesell. "It is nerve racking to put some pressure on them and at times we see the immaturity, but hopefully we can put that behind us and focus on wrestling tough and getting the task of winning the conference completed."
Tommy Holifield receives a forfeit as the No.3 seed at 189-pounds and Beau Judd matches up with Edgewood's Chris Brummett in his opener.
Brady Silvers is a No. 2 seed at 171-pounds and faces Chase Behrman of Owen Valley. Senior Caleb Dutrow is a three seed and gets a bye in the first round as does Brandon Hathaway, a two seed at 135-pounds.
With the postseason's arrival, getting supreme effort in each match becomes the most important thing for each of the Knights' wrestlers.
Mikesell believes his team has the horses to beat the Mustangs and win a fifth straight team title, but wrestler has to leave it all on the mat today.
"Our mindset is we want to win. We can do it with the 13 guys we have, but all I ask from these guys is hustle effort and sportsmanship," said Mikesell."We do those three things (and) winning usually takes care of itself. It will take the effort of all 13 to pull it off."
Wrestling will begin at 10 a.m. in Clinton.