Times Sports Editor
Last year was special for the Northview wrestling program, which garnered its first sectional team championship in 23 years.
However, a great portion of that success came from a talented senior class, which has since graduated and leaves a degree of inexperience in the lineup for the 2008-09 season. Add to that a couple of injuries and some changes of heart and this year's edition has quite a few questions marks, but no fewer goals that coach Dan Mikesell hopes to achieve.
"It was very troubling for me why some kids had a change of heart," said Mikesell. "I put in a lot of time and effort into this sport there is a certain amount of emotional attachment you get with your athletes, so their decision was difficult for me on a personal level."
The Knights also graduated three sectional champions from last year's roster and won't have another, in Kyle McCoy, for some time due to a football injury.
Add third-place finisher Skyler Hall, who broke his leg in practice this week along with heavyweight Beau Judd, who is also recovering from a football injury and the Knights are going to have a lot of inexperience in their lineup.
A burgeoning North Clay program will help more than most year's with some talented freshmen joining the varsity lineup according to Mikesell.
"Obviously the North Clay program will help," said Mikesell. "Caleb Nicosin and Austin Bell will see varsity right away and should transition nicely. Baylor Girton will also be on varsity at a heavier weight class (145) so he will face many upperclassmen. Pat Durcholz will also be a freshman in the line up at 130. They both have some experience and should get us some wins."
Nicosin jumps into the Knights' lineup at 103 pounds to start the season while Bell is slated to be at 119 pounds currently. Hall's absence at 112 pounds complicates the lower weights and his status for the season isn't currently known. Aaron See will add some depth for the Knights at 171 pounds.
Though the team's inexperience this year would seem to lessen the ultimate goals for the squad, Mikesell still believes there is plenty to look forward to this year.
"The expectation is always the same, that each kid gets out and wrestles with pride and dignity, giving all they have, and wrestling to their fullest potential," said Mikesell. "Hustle and effort does not require any talent or experience. Obviously we have to look at our goals for the season and make them realistic for our experience."
What the Knights do have is the return of regional qualifier Luke Pingleton, who moves up to 125 pounds after placing sixth at Bloomington South last year. According to Mikesell, Pingleton is set to make some noise and sophomore appears in the preseason state rankings.
"Luke spent some time this summer at a really tough camp and came in looking ready to make some noise," said Mikesell. "He is moving up a couple of classes, but is much stronger than last year so it should be a great season for him."
Sophomore Brandon Mikesell returns after ringing up a 29-8 mark and taking third in the sectional in the rugged 125-pound class. He'll see action in the 140-pound class, but his father feels he's ready for the challenge after winning the conference, taking second in the Bo Henry Tourney and finishing as runner-up at the Mooresville Holiday Classic.
"We are expecting great things from him even though he is still just a sophomore, but in the same token he is still just a sophomore and has much more work in front of him," said Mikesell.
Both Pingleton and Mikesell have added muscle to their frames and Mikesell has another season of football behind him along with the Advanced PE program.
McCoy could return after the holidays from a broken leg suffered at the end of September. But his absence from the practice mat is being felt as well.
"Not having Kyle practice with Luke and Brandon is a real setback," said Mikesell. "He is one that can really push them and vice versa. Early indication was he would be back around our invitational, but that is not looking good now. Hopefully after Christmas we can get him some action and get ready for a long post season."
Brady Silvers returns at 171 pounds after placing fourth in the sectional last season and he'll have Aaron See as his competition during practice each afternoon.
In the upper weight classes the Knights will have senior Nathan Duregger at 152 pounds, but will have to forfeit 160. The 189-pound class is stacked with Tommy Holifield, Michael Duregger, Brandon Pleake and Levi Sheese, who returns after spending time at another school the last two years.
Junior Hubbard checks in at 215 for the Knights this season with Pleake and Michael Duregger at 285 while Judd recovers from injury.
"Wrestling is a big commitment," said Mikesell. "We have several practices over the holiday season, you have to watch your weight and bottom line, it is a grueling sport.
"I am coaching the kids that are in the room on a daily basis to reach their fullest potential," continued Mikesell. "We will get better each week and be at our peak come conference and sectional."
Northview travels to Westfield on Saturday to compete at the Great Eight Tourney at 8:30 a.m.
2008 Northview Wrestling Schedule
|Dec. 3||vs. Bloomington South||6:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 6||at Westfield Great 8||8:30 a.m.|
|Dec. 10||at Owen Valley||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 13||Northview Invite||8 a.m.|
|Dec. 17||at Edgewood||6 p.m.|
|Dec. 20||at Bloomington North||9 a.m.|
|Dec. 30||at Mooresville Classic||10 a.m.|
|Dec. 31||at Mooresville Classic||8 a.m.|
|Jan. 10||at Columbus East Tourney||9 a.m.|
|Jan. 14||vs. T.H. South||6 p.m.|
|Jan. 17||at Sullivan Winter Duals||9 a.m.|
|Jan. 24||at WIC Tourney||10 a.m.|
|Jan. 31||Sectional||10 a.m.|