Times Sports Editor
The Bloomington South Regional gets underway at 9 a.m. today as six Northview wrestlers take to the mats looking to earn a spot in the semi-state.
Luke Pingleton is a No. 1 seed after winning the title at 125 pounds in the Northview Sectional last weekend. Pingleton brings a 29-4 mark into the regional and coach Dan Mikesell feels that his junior's hard work is being rewarded during the postseason.
I am pretty proud of Luke," Mikesell said. "He has worked hard in the summer to make himself better and I feel like he really put together a solid performance on Saturday. He was a little under the weather, but you wouldn't have known it by the way he wrestled. It was a nice jump to go from third to first. We need to stay focused to stay on a roll for the next three weeks."
As the sectional champion, the regional road is a bit easier for Pingleton as he faces the No. 4 competitor from a different sectional. Mikesell believes that Pingleton has set himself up for success in the regional and farther on in the postseason.
"I think he understood the importance of winning head-to-head against sectional opponents to set himself up to be in the top spot from the beginning," Mikesell said. "He was pretty determined, so I wasn't worried he would relax. I think Luke can be a state place winner this year."
Joining Pingleton in the regional are freshmen Caleb Nicosin (103) and Austin Bell (112). Both wrestlers placed second in sectional competition and opened some eyes with their efforts last weekend. The pair are a product of North Clay's program and are each looking to advance to semistate with some success today.
"Anytime you can get a freshman into the (sectional) finals is nice," Mikesell commented. "Obviously their experience at North Clay paid off. Next year they need to turn those seconds into firsts. The experience of being there hopefully will motivate them and give them an advantage next year."
"Caleb has been getting better each week," Mikesell added. "He is starting to be very consistent with his technique and he has a great chance to get to semi-state next week. I feel like he is really hitting his stride at the right time."
Northview's coach was also quick to mention Bell's advancement at 112 pounds, doing so with an important upset victory on the way.
"Austin Bell beat a kid who was 22-0," Mikesell said. "That was a major highlight for me. He was really focused and Coach (Chris) Walker came up with a great game plan for him. He followed through and pulled it out with like two seconds left. I feel that was his best match of the year."
Senior Kyle McCoy had a tough road during the sectional, falling to the eventual champion in the semifinals and earning a third-place finish. He's going to have his work cut out for him as he heads into a tough 140-pound weight class at the regional.
"The 140-pound class is a loaded weight class coming out of Jennings County, so he will have to be ready to win a big match first thing this morning down in Bloomington," Mikesell admitted. "I don't like to create excuses, but his leg is not 100 percent. I wish we could redshirt him for another season."
In the 135-pound weight class, Brandon Mikesell fought through the pain of having some stitches ripped out of his ear during his third-place match, but battled to the victory.
"Brandon did good job of fighting through some pain in his consolation match for third," Mikesell said. "He popped some of the stitches in his ear, but gutted it out to have a nice win over Tsali Lough of TH South."
Brady Silvers qualified for the regional with his fourth-place finish in the 160-pound class at the sectional. Though he'll have a tough opening round match, Mikesell believes that Silvers will be well prepared.
"Brady lost a tough one for third so his work this week was tough," Mikesell admitted. "But I am confident that his hard work this week will give him the best shot possible to advance."
The top-four from each weight class will advance from the regional to semistate competition next weekend at Roberts Stadium in Evansville.