Times Sports Editor
An inexperienced Northview wrestling team opened the season facing a tall task in hosting second-ranked Bloomington South and the Panthers looked the part in gaining a 66-6 victory over the Knights.
Despite a lopsided loss on the scoreboard, Northview coach Dan Mikesell saw some positives from a team that placed several freshmen into action and forfeited four weight classes.
"I know after a 66-6 loss you hate to say, 'I saw good things,' but I did. I saw a lot of hustle, a lot of effort, I saw us working on things we work on in practice and guys that are better now than they were last year," Mikesell said. "I'm actually encouraged by the effort our kids are giving us. This is a good group of kids and they have been working hard and I wouldn't expect anything less than that.
"We were just a little bit outgunned. Bloomington South is just a bit stronger than us and a lot more experienced," Mikesell added. "They've got several kids that are ranked. The kid that Jessie (Miller) wrestled is ranked third and he was toe-to-toe with him. The kid that Cale (McCoy) wrestled is ranked and he was right there with him. So we've got some things to work on."
The evening opened well for the Knights as freshman Stephan Gibson took to the mat at 126 pounds and broke a scoreless deadlock in the third period with an escape with 1:20 remaining. Gibson added two late points to gain a 3-0 victory over the Panthers' Rex Stillions.
"That was a great start for Stephen's career," Mikesell said of his 126-pounder. "Obviously he didn't have one of their ranked kids, but for a freshman to go out there and start the night off against a quality opponent. He wrestled really smart and really well. He was really scrappy and has good athleticism and is very coachable."
After the opening match victory, the Knights dropped the next match via forfeit and the Panthers won by fall at 138, 145 and 152 before gaining a forfeit at 160. South also got wins by fall at 170 and 182 to set the table for a stellar match at 195 pounds.
Bloomington South's Clayton Fiddler, ranked third, gained the upper hand on the scoreboard in the first period with a takedown with 15 seconds remaining. However, Miller came back to earn an escape off the bottom to start the second period and then tied the match at 2-2 in the third period. Fiddler would pick up two points on a takedown, but Miller rallied to earn a point with an escape with just 35 seconds remaining.
Trailing 4-3 late in the match, Miller wasn't able to gain the tying point over the final seconds as Fiddler took round one this season.
"Jessie (Miller) felt like he had a throw at the beginning of the match and went for it. I can't fault him for that. Clayton Fiddler is a big Greco-Roman (style) kid so he felt it coming and he reacted the right way and got the take down early and that was the difference," Mikesell said. "It was tough, that kid is ranked third in the state, but he went toe-to-toe with him and we expect him to be right there with him at the end of the year on the podium."
The 285-pound match was even more exciting, but ultimately had a better ending for Northview fans as Justin Sampson came away with a 5-2 victory in triple overtime over Bloomington South's Ghassan Dajani.
After two scoreless periods of action, Sampson gained a 1-0 lead with an escape. However, Dajani caught Sampson off balance with 24 seconds left and took a 2-1 lead with a takedown on the boundary. Sampson never gave up though and tied the score with an escape with two seconds left in the match.
The first two overtimes remained scoreless before Sampson got loose from the bottom for an escape point and finished off the win with a takedown.
"(Gus Dajani) is really gunning for Justin," Mikesell said. "You can tell he's been working really hard. They had a good game plan for Justin, but I think the difference is how hard Justin has worked in the offseason. He's in great shape for a heavyweight and he wasn't worried to go double overtime."
The Knights will be back in action Saturday with a trip to the Westfield Great 8 Tourney.
Bloomington South 66, Northview 6
126: Stephan Gibson (Nv) wins over Rex Stillions (BS), 3-0
132: Devin Broukal (BS) wins by forfeit
138: Brennan Barlow (BS) wins by fall over Jackson Copper (Nv), 5:12
145: Jonathan Webb (BS) wins by fall over Trey Boor (Nv), 3:30
152: Jeremy Williams (BS) wins by fall over Coan Williams (Nv), 1:32
160: Seth Seitzinger (BS) wins by forfeit
170: Conor Galvin (BS) wins by fall over Levi Brown (Nv), 1:21
182: Dakota Thacker (BS) wins by fall over Scotty McGuffin (Nv), 1:19
195: Clayton Fiddler (BS) wins by dec. over Jessie Miller (Nv), 4-3
220: Boyd Haley (BS) wins by forfeit
285: Justin Sampson (Nv) wins by dec. over Gus Dajani (BS), 5-2 3 OT
106: Griffin Schermer (BS) wins by dec. over Cale McCoy (Nv), 7-4
113: Micheal Cole (BS) wins by forfeit
120: Zack Runyon (BS) wins by fall over Shane Ryan (Nv), 1:15