News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

February 7, 2014

Wabash Valley wrestlers like chances in regionals

TERRE HAUTE — A total of 32 Wabash Valley wrestlers head to regional competition today, 24 of them at Bloomington South and eight at North Montgomery.

And thanks to an adjustment in the bracket that took place a year ago, the wrestlers and their coaches who are heading to Monroe County feel reasonably optimistic about their chances of reaching another round.

The 9 a.m. opening round at both sites is the most important one, because the season is over for the losers of those matches. “When it’s win one or go home, it’s tough no matter who you’re wrestling,” pointed out coach Dan Mikesell of Northview.

The four first-round winners are guaranteed a spot at the semistate — Evansville or New Castle — and will wrestle twice more today to determine first through fourth place.

That’s important too, of course.

“The important thing about the regional is that it sets you up for what’s going to happen at the semistate,” coach Gabe Cook of Terre Haute South noted.

Placings determine pairings. First-round matches today feature the champion from one sectional against the fourth-place finisher from the other, while a runner-up will be matched with a third-place finisher.

The bracket works the same way at the semistates on Feb. 15, except there are four regionals feeding into the tournament and a wrestler has to win his or her first two matches to reach the two-day finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse that begin Feb. 21.

“Obviously, the fours have the most challenging [draws],” Cook pointed out.

Qualifiers from last week’s Northview Sectional will be paired against wrestlers from the Southridge Sectional today at Bloomington, and that might make the road a little easier than it was when the other sectional represented at Bloomington included powers from the southeastern part of the state that included the two Columbus schools and Jennings County.

“Some of the small schools [at the Southridge Sectional] don’t have wrestlers at every weight,” coach Mark Frisz of Terre Haute North explained this week, “so there might be a weight class at that sectional that only has five kids [four of whom became regional qualifiers].”

There’s still quality coming from Southridge — the host Raiders, in fact, are sending a pair of 44-0 wrestlers in 182-pounder Andy Fisher and all-state lineman Ethan Schwoeppe at 285 — but lack of depth might enable more Northview Sectional qualifiers to move on.

“We have four second-place finishers,” Frisz pointed out, “and J.J. Low [who placed third at the sectional] has beaten [Jasper’s Tommy Brock, second at Southridge] earlier in the year … we feel pretty good about [the draw].”

“If we wrestle really well, we’ll have several semistate qualifiers,” Mikesell predicted.

South will be represented by six wrestlers, including sectional champions David Lewis (113) and Phoenix Adams (34-1 at 152). Cook is optimistic about their chances, and expects sectional-championship rematches in today’s finals between Lewis and Northview’s Austin Cook and between runner-up Cory Orndorff (14-1) against Bloomington South’s Devin Broukal.

South’s Alex Mimms meets Schwoeppe in his first match at 285 today, Cook pointed out, and 106-pounder Darin Pemberton, runner-up last week, “had a little [injury] adversity; we’ve had to change his strategy a little bit.”

Northview has the biggest Wabash Valley representation at Bloomington today, although none of the nine Knights who are wrestling were champions last week. Trance Kelly was close to winning the 126-pound title last week, however, and 120-pounder Cale McCoy was a third runner-up for Mikesell’s team.

“We’ve had a good week of practice,” Mikesell said. “This is my favorite time of the year, and I’m looking forward to coaching these guys another week.”

In addition to the nine Knights, six Braves and five Patriots, there are three Sullivan wrestlers and West Vigo’s 126-pounder Cody Elkins at Bloomington today.

South Vermillion has six wrestlers competing at North Montgomery and Turkey Run is represented by two, but those qualifiers from the Crawfordsville Sectional face the opposite situation. Their sectional is paired with the big suburban schools from the Zionsville Sectional, which will give the Wildcats and Warriors a tough way to go.

All coaches hope weather does not become a factor.

“I’m a little concerned about conditioning,” said Frisz, whose Patriots missed two practice days this week, “so I hope everyone else is in the same boat.

“Our confidence is high and I think we’re all feeling good,” the North coach added. “That’s a key at this point, going into a match feeling you can win.”

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