Times Sports Editor
The Northview wrestling team is preparing for its annual post-holiday battle in the two-day Mooresville Holiday Classic that runs both Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning at 10 a.m.
The 16-team tourney is typically a mid-season barometer for teams and individual competitors to get a grasp on where they need to improve as the season heads into the final couple of months. The Knights will see some familiar, quality competition in the tourney and should get an idea of where some of their individual wrestlers are at during the mid-season. The team isn't at full strength as injuries and travel plans over the holidays has removed a couple of regular varsity competitors and has shuffled the brackets according to head coach Dan Mikesell.
"We have some sickness, injuries and family Christmas that are going to wreak some havoc on our line-up," Mikesell said. "The team scores won't be a full indication of our strength or potential as I see our team. This tournament is a barometer of how well individuals can do in the post season. Anyone who can place in the top-three at Mooresville can expect to advance far in the state tournament in January."
Last season the Knights placed seventh overall as a team and had four wrestlers that finished in the top-four overall. Three of those wrestlers are back and hoping to improve on those finishes.
Caleb Nicosin and Austin Bell each finished fourth last year and return with designs on climbing higher on the podium.
Nicosin has moved up to 112 and brings a 12-6 mark into the tournament and has a first round match-up with Decatur Central's Nnamdi Nwaka and could see Plainfield's Corin McKee in round two. Nicosin already owns an 8-0 major decision against McKee during the Northview Invitational. Bell comes in after placing fourth at 119 last season and jumps up to 130 this year where he will face Seymour freshman Elijah Toborg in round one before Mooresville's Brent McCreary in the second round.
"For Nicosin and Bell to improve on a fourth-place finish, they have to score takedowns and get escapes in tough matches," Mikesell said. "I know that sounds kind of simple, but that is the bottom line. Against quality competition one big score is usually the difference."
Mikesell believes that a large tourney such as the Holiday Classic gives wrestlers an opportunity to develop their own intensity.
Beau Judd is another top-four finisher from last season and he returns with an 8-6 mark and a chance to see Plainfield sophomore Phillip Clay in the opening round and possibly the Pioneer's John Depew in round two.
Several Northview wrestlers are looking to improve upon sixth-place finishes last year and one of them is Aaron See, who has put together a 15-1 overall mark this year and a championship at the Jeffersonville Tourney last weekend. He is scheduled to see Bloomington North's Johnathon Garcia of Bloomington North in round one and potentially Evansville Central's 12-2 Austen Pace in the second bout.
Shaffer faces Whiteland's Jon McCoy (4-12) in round one, but faces a challenge in round two against either Bloomington North's Conner McMasters (10-8) or Charlestown's Jacob Hall (11-1) in the second round.
"Larry is in a tough bracket, but he is a tough kid," Mikesell said. "I am hoping he can use this tournament as a break out performance. He works really hard in practice and listens to advice, so hopefully it can pay off this week."
Hall gets Mooresville freshman Trace Rooks (3-6) in the opener and could see Jennings County sophomore Marshall Holwager (18-2) in his second match.
Brody Girton could be a wildcard in the tournament as he is tentatively at 171 pounds, where he is wrestling up a couple of classes, but may move down to 152 to fill in for an injured Brandon Mikesell. Girton is 11-5 this season at 171 so a drop down in weight could prove interesting.
"Brody has been a nice addition to the line up. If Brandon doesn't get healthy, he will move down to 152. He was not seeded at 171 so it would be a tough road for him," Mikesell said.
Jesse Miller (10-7) is currently scheduled at 189, but could change in a lineup shuffle, but he is slated to face Castle's Bryan Plassmeier (3-8) at 189.
Baylor Girton (8-9) is at 145 for the tourney and will see 8-3 Ryan Miles of Charlestown in round one. At 140 pounds, Zach Mishler (1-10) takes on Seymour's Zefe Trejo (6-4) and the Knight's Trey Boor (3-11) is at 125 for a match-up against Homestead senior, Keelan Rushing (8-2). Darrick Mitchell could be at 135 and is slated to face Michael Hendon of T.C. Howe.
Ryan South (11-7) has been a nice addition to the Northview lineup at 103 pounds, but will miss the tourney due to a family trip. South may be replaced by Shane Ryan at 103, but he would have to make weight to compete.
Though the road to any individual titles will be a difficult one, Mikesell believes his team could make some noise in the tourney.
"Obviously since we don't have any No. 1 seeds no one is counting on us to have any champions. I think we have some guys who could surprise some people."