By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
Six Northview wrestlers continue their quest for a trip to the IHSAA State Wrestling Finals in Indianapolis with today's regional competition at Bloomington South.
For a pair of Knights, the sting of not advancing out of the regional still lingers and provides some extra incentive today as seniors Justin Sampson and Jesse Miller compete. For junior Shane Ryan, senior Zach Williams and freshmen Cale McCoy and Stephen Gibson, this will be their first regional experience.
Sampson comes in unbeaten as a sectional champion for the second consecutive season, but that doesn't mean he's overlooking any of his opponents as the top-seed at 285 pounds.
Coach Dan Mikesell knows that being a No. 1 seed is beneficial as far as today's match-ups as an opening round win will solidify a spot in the Evansville Semi-state in one week.
Sampson draws Mitchell freshman Caelan England (10-16) in the opening round as regional re-alignment brings the top-four placers from the Southridge Sectional to Bloomington this year instead of Jennings County as in previous years.
Potential second round opponents would either be Bedford North Lawrence's Austin Davis (24-7) or Owen Valley's JR Robertson (23-8), who Sampson defeated in the sectional semifinal.
"I anticipate a match up with Davis from BNL. The sectional match against Robinson was very misleading score wise. We were in control the entire match and JR did a nice job of staying away from us," Mikesell said. "Justin is pretty mat savvy and understood that he didn't need to take any unnecessary risks. We will take our chance with either in the semis. Davis is a much different style of wrestler than Robinson so we have worked on scoring off of counter offense."
Southridge junior Ethan Schwoeppe (41-3) looms on the opposite side of the bracket for Sampson as the No. 2 seed after winning his sectional. Though unfamiliar with the Southridge grappler, Mikesell likes Sampson's chances today.
"I have no experience with Schwoeppe of Southridge. My only hint is what other coaches have told me about him," Mikesell said. "I feel comfortable with our style of wrestling and our training against anyone. I look forward to the challenge as does Justin."
Miller (34-6) draws Washington junior Edwin Revolorio (33-9) in his opener with a possible rematch against unbeaten Clayton Fiddler (37-0) in round two.
"Jesse has a runner-up which is a little tougher draw, but he has had a great week of practice," Mikesell said. "He will need to control the ties and set the tempo of his match, win the scrambles on his feet and we should be fine. We will see Fiddler in the semi's, it's a good match up for us and I am sure it will be close again and could go either way."
For 24-11 senior Zach Williams, the regional is some rarified air, but he's hoping to continue a stellar final year for the Knights and reach the semi-state level as he takes on Jasper's Cory Hoffman (22-7) in the opener.
"Zach has a great opportunity to get to semi-state. We know Joyner likes to throw so we have concentrated a little more on that style this week," Mikesell said of the opening bout. "I am just real proud of Zach and his dedication this season, I know he wants to continue wrestling so I expect we will see nothing less than his best efforts."
The draw for Ryan (18-17) went a little different than expected as he gets Jasper sophomore Tommy Brock (26-5), who placed third at Southridge at 113 pounds.
"Shane has a weird draw, I thought the Jasper kid would win his sectional, but Shane is hitting his peak at this point and wrestling his best," Mikesell said. "I would say it will show our strength of schedule as our record looks on paper to be the worst in the bracket. But Shane understands that records don't matter and sometimes can be misleading and feels very confident about his chances."
Freshman Cale McCoy (28-7) has impressed during his first season and is looking to parlay a runner-up sectional spot into a semi-state trip as he opens with Jasper's Dillon Hurst (28-6).
I think Cale is in the upper level of his weight class," Mikesell commented. "If he wrestles like he has all year he'll be fine. I like his attitude and work ethic and really enjoy sitting in his corner."
After placing fourth in the sectional, Gibson (19-15) has a tough draw against No. 2 seeded Juan Ramirez (28-13) of Southridge in his opener.
"Stephen has the toughest road to go, but again I believe he is battled tested and will be right in the mix for advancement," Mikesell noted.
Competition begins at 10 a.m. at Bloomington South with the top-four individuals advancing.