Times Sports Editor
Three different Northview wrestlers are looking for a spot in the IHSAA State Finals beginning on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That quest continues today at the new Ford Arena in Evansville.
The top-four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state finals, meaning that to qualify, a competitor must win two matches this afternoon.
Two of the Knights, Caleb Nicosin and Aaron See will see wrestlers from one of the top programs in the state in Evansville Mater Dei.
"Mater Dei is the premier program in southern Indiana. It is a tough match-up, but it makes it that much better when you beat them in their own back yard," Northview coach Dan Mikesell said. "We have had kids do it in the past and our kids realize we train just as hard as they do so we will wrestle the man not the uniform."
Nicosin is competing at 106 pounds and matches up with Mater Dei's Wyatt Seng, a sophomore with a record of 23-6 this season. If there is an intangible edge for Nicosin, it might be that he is the lone senior in the entire class of 16 competitors. Bloomington South's Griffin Schermer, who topped Nicosin in a five-overtime battle at the regional, is in the opposite bracket.
Though Mikesell noted that Nicosin has never faced Seng before in competition, he wasn't completely unfamiliar.
"We have not wrestled Seng, but did see him at the Jeffersonville Tourney so we have some knowledge of what he likes to do," Mikesell said. "We have to control the ties and set the tempo and let the chips fall were they may. I am confident that Caleb will give his all as a senior he realizes this is it. That's all I can ask for as a coach."
The 160-pound weight class is one of the tougher ones at the Evansville Semi-state with five ranked wrestlers in competition today. The Knights' Brody Girton will see one of the unranked wrestlers in Forest Park senior Casey Abell (34-6), but the Rangers' grappler is also a regional champion that can't be taken lightly.
"Brody has had a great week of preparation," Mikesell said. "I think he will come out fired up. The game plan is to wrestle under control and take it one move at a time."
A win in the opener would set up a likely battle with Center Grove's Brock Warner a senior with a 35-6 mark. Terre Haute South's Tsali Lough (40-2) is also in the weight class and will take on Eastern (Pekin) wrestlers Luke Terry (25-12).
Northview's lone ranked wrestler, senior Aaron See (38-4), will also take on a Mater Dei competitor in Evan Collins, a 26-9 junior. A potential win would set up a match between either Greencastle's Ben Hesler (32-3) or CJ Andrey (23-2) of Paoli.
"There really is no easy path through this semi-state. Aaron got the draw we wanted, but he still has to earn his ticket," Mikesell.
One benefit for See is that he already boasts a win against Collins this season, but that doesn't mean that a win can be taken for granted.
"We beat Collins at Jeffersonville, so I am sure he will be gunning for us and try to take away some of our offense that was successful. We just need to stay a step ahead of him this week," Mikesell said.
He also offered a bit of a scouting report in regards to Hesler and Andrey as the winner of that second round match would punch a ticket to the state finals.
"The kid from Paoli is very strong and likes to slow down the match. Hesler is a thrower so we will have to be wary of control ties and be careful not to push into him giving him momentum," Mikesell said. "I think those two are pretty evenly matched so we prepared for the chance that we would have to wrestle either. But, first things first we have to get by Collins. I am excited and looking forward to Saturday. I know these three guys are as well. We have trained all season for this chance and I am confident they are prepared."
The Evansville Reitz Semi-state begins at 9 a.m. CT at the Ford Center.