INDIANAPOLIS -- Northview senior Aaron See opened a few eyes at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night when he knocked off Greenfield-Central's Austin Gearlds (34-5) by fall to advance to round two of the IHSAA Individual Wrestling State Finals.
However, the real work began on Saturday when the 220-pounder took to the mat to battle his way up the podium.
By the time competition had wrapped up that evening, See had earned a lot of respect from the fans and coaches as he completed a run to fourth-place in front of a large contingent of local supporters.
"We had really good fan support this weekend. There was a whole section that was basically Northview people. I was really happy that that many people came up to support Aaron and our program," Northview coach Dan Mikesell said. "We had some little kids there watching and hopefully that will get them all fired up. We had some high school kids there too so hopefully that will be their aspiration to be there in the future."
See began quarterfinal action Saturday morning with a match-up against Southern Wells' Seth Biberstine, a wrestler that was unbeaten and brought a 46-0 mark into the match against See, who was 42-5.
The Knights' senior fell behind on a takedown and trailed 4-2 at the end of the first period and was behind 8-3 halfway through the second period before he made his move.
"The emotions were running pretty high after that match. We had a game plan to weather the storm and not get put on our back early on and to make sure it was close. We thought we could wear him down a little bit and that's what happened," Mikesell said. "Aaron just wrestled all out, the kid got a little tired and (See) was able to get him on his back, reverse him a lift him a couple of times.
"(Aaron) was in the right mindset, he knew he might get behind. He knew if he didn't get too far behind he could maybe make a come back. It's a tribute to his attitude and his 'never say die,' winning mentality," Mikesell added.
See advanced into a semi-final match against South Bend Clay's Joe Gallegos, who knocked off once-beaten Keith Knura of Indian Creek in the quarterfinals with a 7-3 decision.
In the battle for a berth in the championship match, the two grapplers were evenly matched early on as Gallegos got a two-point reversal and See added two escapes in a 2-2 tie as the match reached its third period climax. As both wrestlers battled on the outside of the circle in the final seconds, Gallegos was able to spin around behind See to capture two points and send him into the title match with a 4-2 decision.
Despite the loss, Mikesell felt that See wrestled well against the eventual state runner-up.
"In the semifinal match, Aaron wrestled a fantastic match," Mikesell said. "He wrestled good enough to win. We just didn't get the take down when we needed it and barely gave up a take down as the buzzer went off. He was right there, three seconds from going to overtime. I think if we would have gotten to overtime we might have been able to get a take down because he was starting to wear the kid down a bit. He couldn't quite finish, but he was right there."
In the third-place match, See took on Lake Central's Gelen Robinson, who made a pair of early take downs stand up in a 5-2 victory.
"That kid had something to prove because he kind of got gypped in his semi-final match. He had a crawl on his back and didn't get the points. He maybe came out a hair more fired up. He scored early on us and we just couldn't dig ourselves out of the hole. He's a phenomenal athlete," Mikesell said. "(Robinson) is being recruited by all the Big 10 schools for football and his dad played in the NBA. He's just a sophomore. He probably wrestled well enough to win the tournament. Any time you get in the top-four, a little thing here or there, makes the difference. That's how close Aaron was to being under the lights (in the championship match)."
The record-setting Northview wrestler registered his 27th pin of the season on Friday night, which is a school record as well as his 81 career pins.
In the championship match at 220, Crown Point's Tyler Kral was able to squeak out a 3-2 victory over Gallegos to win the title.
Terre Haute South senior Tsali Lough had a much more difficult day as he lost an 8-5 heartbreaker at 160 pounds in the quarterfinals to New Palestine's Connor Robinson. He would eventually win the seventh-place match over Scottie Sopko of Hobart via pin in 2:32.
Also of note in the finals, Crown Point's Jason Tsirtsis became the eighth individual wrestler to win four consecutive state championships, joining his brother Alex in the feat. Tsirtis dominated the 145-pound class, winning four straight matches, including a 22-7 technical fall in the title bout against Indianapolis Cathedral's Vinny Corsaro. Tsirtsis adds the 145-pound crown to the 125-pound title he won as a freshman. He won at 130 as a sophomore and at 140 last season. He put together an impressive 170-2 career mark as Crown Point advances to compete in next weekend's Team State Finals.