Times Sports Editor
Saturday's Bloomington South Regional for wrestlers that qualified through the Northview and Jennings County Sectionals is all about retribution for several Knights and ultimately about reaching next week's Evansville Semi-state.
Five Northview wrestlers will be in action this weekend with two getting an opening bout re-match with competitors that they've seen earlier this year. Winning a first round match is key because it assures a wrestler of a top-four finish and a berth in the semi-state.
Northview junior Justin Sampson (33-6) won the sectional title at 285 pounds and will see Seymour's Adam Wolka (27-9), a competitor that he's seen twice this season. Senior Brody Girton (23-9) has another bout with Jimmy Fisher (24-18) of Columbus East.
"Both Justin and Brody Girton have rematches. Justin has Wolka from Seymour who beat us at Mooresville, but then we beat him at Columbus East," Northview coach Dan Mikesell said. "It will be a real tough match but I am confident we can win it. Wolka doesn't do a whole lot offensively so we will have to be patient on our feet and score when the opportunity presents itself."
Sampson's bout with Wolka in the opener came about due to a sectional upset at Jennings County as the No. 4 seed, Cody Banks, upset the top seeded wrestler and then won the championship.
Brody Girton is hoping to reverse the result from his earlier match-up with Fisher and Mikesell believes that the senior can make the adjustment.
Girton's twin brother Baylor won't have a re-match, but he does have a battle against the runner-up at Jennings County at 145, Jordan Partee (35-12) of Madison. Mikesell knows that the task at hand won't be easy, but knows the brothers will be up to the challenge.
"Both Girtons have their work cut out for them, but I think they could be the sleepers in their weight classes," Mikesell said. "No one is giving them credit for advancing and I know that will motivate them to do their best."
Senior Caleb Nicosin (32-7) will certainly be driven after losing a first round regional match last year and not reaching the semi-state. He'll see Columbus North sophomore Evan Speaker (25-16), the third-place finisher at Jennings County at 106 pounds.
"Caleb seems pretty focused. We are not taking anything lightly this year," Mikesell said. "I think he learned a good lesson last year that during regionals. The intensity is turned up a notch and I am confident he is ready."
A semifinal match would loom with the winner between Jennings County champion Lane Luhn (24-14) and Terre Haute South's Ryan Uppal (23-14). Nicosin pinned Uppal in just 1:11 in sectional competition.
Perhaps the most intriguing match-ups loom in the 220-pound weight class as Northview senior Aaron See (36-3) appears to have a clear path to the final as long as he takes care of business.
See opens with Seymour's James Johnson and would see either Terre Haute North's Ethan Edington (21-15) or Brown County's Justin Larson (14-7).
"Aaron has two kids he has pinned heading into the finals. We anticipate a match-up with Iyan Bass in finals who has beat us twice both times by one point. It'll be fun, I am looking forward to it," Mikesell said.
A potential finals match with Bass would be one of the most eagerly anticipated as See (36-3) has designs on some revenge after losing two tight matches with the Jennings County senior, who is ranked No. 5 according to Indianamat.com. See comes in as the No. 14 ranked wrestler at 220 pounds.
The Knights' Jackson Copper (13-22) will get some valuable experience by reaching this level as a freshman, but he's got a tough match-up in the opening round with the 132-pound champ at Jennings County in Conner Montgomery (14-0).
"Jackson needs to gain as much experience this week as he can. It's a tough opening draw when you have a champ from another sectional, he has nothing to lose and just needs to leave it all on the mat," Mikesell said.
Junior 195-pounder, Jessie Miller, is hoping to get another crack at West Vigo's Benjamin Bird, who won a tight battle in the sectional championship match. The two have met three times with Miller winning the WIC Tourney bout. Another potential championship match could loom, but Miller will have to get past his opener against Scottsburg's Caleb Cole (21-3).
"Jesse has a kid from Scottsburg that is 21-3. I hope our tough schedule pays off during the opening round. He has made a tremendous amount of improvement and I know he is really focused to get back to the finals," Mikesell said of his junior.