News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

February 16, 2014

Valley wrestlers endure tough day at Evansville Semistate

EVANSVILLE — Maybe Darin Pemberton’s injury was the start of it, or maybe the loss by his teammate David Lewis was the omen.

But whatever the cause, the news was bad early and never got much better for Wabash Valley wrestlers Saturday at the Evansville Semistate in the Ford Center.

None of the 13 who qualified for the competition at Evansville advanced to Friday’s state finals, and South Vermillion’s Tanner Smith also suffered a first-round setback at the New Castle Semistate.

Terre Haute South’s Pemberton was ruled out of Saturday’s competition because of a knee injury he suffered during the Bloomington Regional — during which he qualified for semistate competition despite wrestling with a broken thumb.

But the Braves still had two regional champions and a regional runner-up — meaning two top seeds and one second seed in the four-man survivor brackets to advance — and still came up empty, which left coach Gabe Cook temporarily at a loss for words after the end of the second round.

Terre Haute North also lost the top seed among its four competitors Saturday, and Northview — with two second seeds among its four wrestlers — also was shut out.

“Tough competition. It always is,” coach Mark Frisz of North said afterward.

“We didn’t quite get the peak performances like we wanted,” added coach Dan Mikesell of Northview.

Three wrestlers made it to the second round — the go round — on Saturday. Cale McCoy of Northview had a 4-2 victory in his opening match at 120 pounds, while two of the top-seeded wrestlers, North’s Tyler GIlmore and South’s sixth-ranked Phoenix Adams, were dominating. Gilmore routed his first-round opponent at 145 by a 10-0 score, and Adams had a 67-second pin at 152.

But McCoy fell victim to two takedowns, a quick reversal and riding time against Evansville Mater Dei’s Alex Johnson — “We’re pretty good on our feet, but we have to improve our mat wrestling,” Mikesell repeated Saturday; Gilmore was beaten 7-2 by Cascade’s Zach Batts; and Adams never scored after a last-second reversal in the first period in losing 3-2 to eventual runner-up C.J. Damler of Brownsburg.

North’s Thomas Dull had his moments in his first-round loss, during which he got a key third-period reversal to get within 8-7 but had to yield an escape in a gamble for takedown points in the waning seconds, only to be taken down himself.

Northview’s Trey Boor also had a good start, taking a 4-0 lead before being trapped in a pinning combination, and South Putnam freshman Kyle Shaffer showed promise, holding a 2-0 lead in the third period against 46-1 Andy Fisher of Southridge before suffering a late pin.

Other first-round opponents of Valley wrestlers showed how strong they were, notably Ben Davis sophomore James Pritchett, who dominated a second opponent in advancing to the state finals after upsetting South’s top-seeded Lewis. But that was small consolation to Cook.

“All these guys [including Cory Orndorff] have been here or qualified for this twice, and Phoenix has been here three times. It’s a tough tournament to compete in, and we definitely did not compete the way we are capable,” the South coach finally said.

“The seniors [Adams and Orndorff] have accomplished a lot of great things and they have a lot to be proud of. I hope they take things they learned from the sport and apply them to life after high school.”

“I’m proud of the kids for how hard they competed,” said Frisz. “The effort from everybody was real good. Hopefully Thomas [Dull, a freshman] will be back and the three seniors [J.J. Low and Ryan Moshak in addition to Gilmore] have had good careers that they can be proud of.”

“We’re young,” Mikesell said. “Having two freshmen [Austin Cook and Jacob Hendrich] here is good … we’ll be the upperclassmen dominating next year, hopefully.

Speaking of Boor’s loss, Mikesell added, “That was too bad, because we thought he had a pretty good draw. But from where he started [no experience prior to high school], we can’t complain. He’s been a joy to coach: a real good leader and a real good kid.”

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