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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Wabash Valley Wrestling Club teaching future champions

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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Younger members of the Wabash Valley Wrestling Club work with coaches during Wednesday's meeting at Northview High School. The group is one of two that meet to work on the fundamentals of the sport while also competing in tourneys on the weekends. [Order this photo]
By CAREY FOX

Times Sports Editor

High School wrestling has become one of the most successful programs at Northview in recent years under head coach Dan Mikesell. While the casual fan might only see the success at the prep level, the roots of that success begins much earlier for students in the area.

The Wabash Valley Wrestling Club has become an integral feeder program for providing young athletes with the early foundation for later success in the sport. The early benefactor has been North Clay's wrestling team that was unbeaten last year and continues to provide quality wrestlers to the high school team. The club prides itself in teaching, not only the basic techniques in the sport, but also building upon those aspects with more advanced concepts. The Wabash Valley program includes athletes as young as Kindergarten and Mikesell has enjoyed the teaching that has helped young competitors improve in the sport.

"I am really pleased with the progress of our club. We have a good core group of elementary kids that are improving their skills each year. Becoming a championship wrestler is such a long process. It doesn't happen overnight," Mikesell said. "I have been very pleased this year in seeing kids working on technique that we drill daily in practice."

Northview's varsity coach has helped seven high school wrestlers reach the state finals during his stint and he firmly believes that success begins much earlier.

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Gavin Fletcher (left) and Hayden Grigsby were each champions on Feb. 26 at the Wabash Valley Folkstyle Open Tourney. [Order this photo]
"Positives (of the club) are that our middle school aged kids are having some success. Last year our middle school team was undefeated and part of that success is attributed to having a good core of experienced kids," Mikesell said. "This year our numbers are down just a little at the middle school, but we still have several sixth --and-seventh-graders that are winning several big matches. Hopefully everyone keeps their interest up in the sport and our numbers will rebound next year."

Club wrestling is separated according to age-group levels along with weight classes, which provides a more even playing field for all competitors and Wabash Valley's Club has had a great deal of success in tournaments locally and state-wide.

On Jan. 29, Noah Minor (Intermediate 87-pound) and Jacob Hendrich (School Boy 120-pound) were champions at the Normonco Tourney. Trey Cowden (Intermediate 103-pound), Cade Cooper (Novice 70-pound) and Blake Wharton (School Boy 90-pound) placed fourth. Braeden Wharton was fifth in the Intermediate 60-pound class.

Three weeks later, Minor placed seventh in the Indy Nationals on Feb. 19. At Southmont on the same day, Gavin Fletcher was a champion in the Novice 60-pound division while Hayden Grigsby (Pee Wee 60-pound) and Joey Selby (Bantam 55-pound) were runner-ups. Cowden was fourth at IM 112, Brody Workman was fifth at IM 87 and Ashton Grigsby placed seventh at Novice 80-pounds.

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Noah Minor (left) and Jacob Hendrich were champions at Normonco on Jan. 29.
"Jacob, Noah, Hayden and Braeden started with us at Kindergarten. So they have some years of practice and tournaments under their belt. They are making steady progress and I am happy with what I have seen out of them," Mikesell said. "They are at different levels of competition with Jacob being in middle school and Schoolboy age division, Noah and Braeden are still elementary and Hayden is still in one of the youngest age divisions. So juggling how to coach them sometimes is a challenge. But all of them are winning against good competition."

Two weekends ago, the club sent a large contingent to compete at the Wabash Valley Folkstyle Open in Terre Haute and had a great deal of success as well with 10 wrestlers in the top-three spots in their classes and 19 placing in the top-six.

Grigsby (Pee Wee 60-pound) and Fletcher (Novice 60-pound) were champions with Braeden Wharton (IM 60-pound), Cowden (IM 103-pound) and Cole Pierce (Novice 130-pounds) finishing second. Kaidyn Stevens (Pee Wee 55-pound), Kreyton Quinn (Bantam 80-pounds), Andrew Wilson (IM 70-pound), Minor (IM 70-pound) and Cy Jacob (IM 95-pound) were all third-place finishers.

Several of those competitors are in their first year of competition in the club and Mikesell believes that the youngsters are enjoying their early experiences on the mat.

"It is nice to get some early success in their young career. Sometimes that is what it takes to get kids hooked on the sport," Mikesell added.

Several club wrestlers competed on a large stage last weekend at the Perry Meridian Folkstyle Open that featured more than 600 wrestlers.

Stevens placed fourth in his division while Minor went 4-2 and took fourth at IM 87-pounds. Blake Wharton was 2-2 in the School Boy 91-pound class and was fifth with high school junior Justin Sampson placing seventh in the 285-pound division. Braeden Wharton and Elijah Robertson (IM 70-pound) were also in action.

"We didn't send a ton of kids to Perry this past weekend. We had a friendship meet at West Vigo so most of our kids participated in that on Saturday. I think we had one of our best showings at the meet," Mikesell said. "It is really like a glorified practice with no 'official' score being kept, but our kids were executing technique very well and I was pleased.

"Perry is always a tough tournament. We will officially travel there as a club for Greco and Freestyle in April," Mikesell added. "It is usually a preview of what you can see at state finals minus the kids from the Northeast part of the state."

This weekend will be a state tourney in Indianapolis, in which several club wrestlers will compete, but most of the wrestlers will compete at ISU Arena in the Dale Griffin Memorial Wabash Valley Championship.

"This weekend is the state finals for Pee-Wee through Novice age divisions. I don't really put a ton of emphasis on this tournament. There is plenty of pressure to win a state title as they get older," Mikesell said. "I have been in the sport for a long time and I started the club with the goal of getting kids ready for high school wrestling. Learning basic skills, working hard and having fun are the main goals for the youngest groups, but we will have a few kids attend and those that do have the skill to place."

Normonco Tourney

Jan. 29

First-place

Noah MinorIM 87
Jacob HendrichSchool Boy 120

Fourth-place

Trey CowdenIM 103
Cade CooperNovice 70
Blake WhartonSchool Boy 90

Fifth-place

Braeden WhartonIM 60

Other Participants

Brody Workman, Elijah Robertson, Preston Nuckols, Chandler Nuckols, Gavin Fletcher

Indy Nationals

Feb. 19

Seventh-place

Noah MinorIM 87

Southmont Folkstyle Open

Feb. 19

First-place

Gavin FletcherNovice 60

Second-place

Hayden GrigsbyPee Wee 60
Joey SelbyBantam 55

Fourth-place

Trey CowdenIM 112

Fifth-place

Brody WorkmanIM 87

Seventh-place

Ashton GrigsbyNovice 80

Other participants: Jayden Selby, Jeff Selby, Braeden Wharton, Blake Wharton, Byron Layne, Isaac Torbert, Gage Moran, Gavin Diel

Wabash Valley Folkstyle Open

Feb. 26

First-place

Hayden GrigsbyPee Wee 60
Gavin FletcherNovice 60

Second-place

Braeden WhartonIM 60
Trey CowdenIM 103
Cole PierceNovice 130

Third-place

Kaidyn StevensPee Wee 55
Kreyton QuinnBantam 80
Andrew WilsonIM 70
Noah MinorIM 70
Cy JacobIM 95

Fourth-place

Luke MarlowBantam 45
Cade CooperNovice 75

Fifth-place

Kaleb RoweIM 60
Brody WorkmanIM 87
Braden NevinsNovice 80

Sixth-place

Landon CroyIM 55
Isaac TorbertIM 75
Chandler NuckolsNovice 75
Ashton GrigsbyNovice 80

Other participants: Preston Nuckols, Jayden Selby, Joey Selby, Byron Layne, Gavin Diel, Logan Prather, Elijah Robertson, Gage Moran

Perry Meridian Folkstyle Open

Fourth-place

Kaidyn StevensPee Wee 55
Noah MinorIM 87

Fifth-place

Blake WhartonSchool Boy 91

Seventh-place

Justin SampsonJunior 285

Other participants: Braeden Wharton and Elijah Robertson