TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute South, Terre Haute North and Northview were supposed to have four wrestlers apiece competing in the IHSAA semistate today in Evansville’s Ford Center.
South won’t be able to use one of its four, however, because junior Darin Pemberton (30-8) injured a knee in the Bloomington South Regional last Saturday. Coach Gabe Cook said the 106-pounder, who still managed to place fourth in the regional, is out for the season.
“He’s heartbroken,” Cook told the Tribune-Star. “He’s worked for this all year … but he couldn’t help the injury. He’s back to work already [for next season] lifting weights.”
The top four in each weight class of today’s four semistates will advance to the state finals next Friday and Saturday in Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Evansville Reitz Semistate will consist of qualifiers from last weekend’s regionals at Bloomington South, Castle, Jeffersonville and Mooresville.
South’s remaining participants are junior David Lewis (32-6 at 113), senior Cory Orndorff (16-2 at 132) and senior Phoenix Adams (37-1 and ranked sixth in the state at 152).
Lewis and Adams captured regional titles last Saturday, while Orndorff finished second.
Lewis’ first-round opponent today will be Ben Davis sophomore James Pritchett (25-9), while Orndorff will face Evansville Reitz senior Josh Davis (43-4) and Adams will battle Corydon Central freshman Austin Kopp (24-7).
“David has wrestled tremendously in the postseason,” Cook emphasized. “He’s wrestling through every situation he’s in. He’s not stopping and collecting himself. … He’s constantly trying to get back to his feet.
“At 132, there are six or seven kids who are all real close. Cory definitely takes a lot of risks in his matches and creates a lot of action. That’s what you need to be doing at this level.
“Phoenix is wrestling better than he ever has. He’s made gains throughout the season. He’s better than he was in January. He’s excited to get to this [semistate].”
Adams lost in the second round of the semistate as a sophomore and junior, so he’s seeking his first trip to the state finals. Lewis and Orndorff were eliminated in the semistate last year, so they’re looking to improve as well.
“I’m very proud of these young men,” Cook concluded. “They’ve shown great leadership and they’ve worked very hard to put themselves in a great position to advance.”
Representing North today will be senior J.J. Low (24-6 at 120), freshman Thomas Dull (19-3 at 138), senior Tyler Gilmore (21-7 at 145) and senior Ryan Moshak (21-4 at 182). Gilmore claimed a regional championship last week, while Dull came in second and Low and Moshak third.
First-round foes will be Brown County sophomore Austin Walsh (14-4) for Low, Madison Consolidated junior Chris Tingle (36-12) for Dull, New Albany junior Hunter Castleberry (35-6) for Gilmore and Franklin Community senior Michael Petrole (31-2) for Moshak.
North coach Mark Frisz admitted that Gilmore has the best chance of moving on from his bunch, but that doesn’t mean he’s ruling out the others.
“Based on being a regional champion, that puts [Gilmore] in an advantage position,” Frisz assessed, “but he’s got a kid [senior Zach Batts of Cascade] in his bracket who has beaten him this season. So he’s going to have to be on his game. He’s got a big challenge ahead of him, but I think he’s looking forward to it.”
Frisz mentioned that Low reached the semistate two years ago as a sophomore, “so he shouldn’t be intimidated by the setting.”
Regarding the freshman Dull, Frisz said: “He’s having a great year. He is capable of beating anybody at anytime. He’s going to have to make sure he’s better on his feet. If he gets behind, it’s a little bit more of a struggle. He’s got to keep the match close. … But he’s never out of it either. He’s got an arsenal.”
The Patriots’ coach described Moshak as “a real good leader.”
“He’s had a great year,” Frisz continued. “He wrestles with a lot of confidence and he’s had a great week of practice this week.”
Northview’s semistate combatants are freshman Austin Cook (31-9 at 113), sophomore Cale McCoy (35-6 at 120), freshman Jacob Hendrich (27-14 at 145) and senior Trey Boor (33-12 at 152).
“This has been a very enjoyable season for me as a coach,” Northview coach Dan Mikesell said in an email Friday. “I got to share the experience with my son and daughter and with a group of great kids. They have really worked hard to improve and build a great core for next year. Getting four kids to the semistate level is no easy task and taking two freshmen and a sophomore sets us up for an exciting offseason and next year. I would love the chance to extend the season one more week. I really don’t want it to be over. It’s been a blast.”
Young Cook lost to South’s Lewis 4-2 in the regional championship match, placing runner-up, while McCoy also finished second, Boor third and Hendrich fourth last Saturday.
In today’s first round, Cook will take on Greenwood freshman Jacob Skaggs (32-5), McCoy will square off against Greensburg sophomore Brandon Butz (27-10), Hendrich will tangle with Seymour senior Matthew Ruddick (32-4) and Boor will match skills with Floyd Central senior Cory Troutman (26-7).
“Austin Cook has great potential to have one of the best careers at Northview,” Mikesell insisted. “He is a good athlete and shows a lot of heart in his matches. He has worked hard to improve his skill and understand the sport. His first-round match will be a good one. Greenwood wrestles a tough schedule, so for the [Skaggs] kid to only have five losses is impressive.
“Cale is really close to being an elite wrestler in the state. We need to improve our mat wrestling and continue to dominate on our feet. This is his second trip to Ford Center and I think he feels confident. We feel good about our first-round draw. But of course everyone left is pretty good, so we need to stay focused, get our takedowns and be aggressive the entire match.
“Jacob wrestled the Ruddick kid from Seymour at Mooresville. We lost a tough one and really felt like we let one get away from us. Senior [Ruddick] vs. freshman [Hendrich] with the season on the line is a tall order. But Jacob has been in some big matches before, so I am sure he will be ready for a barnburner. He will need to focus on winning the scramble situations and have the mindset to take advantage of this opportunity to be a state qualifier.
“Trey is a perfect example of perseverance. He did take some lumps early in his career and has made steady progress each season. It has been a long process and I am so happy I’ve had the opportunity to be around such a fine young man. Seeing him reach the semistate level this year was awesome. He is a great role model for the younger kids on the team of how to work hard during the season.”
n At the New Castle Semistate, South Vermillion will take junior 170-pounder Tanner Smith (24-6), who placed fourth in the North Montgomery Regional last Saturday. He’ll wrestle Pendleton Heights junior Spencer McCool (29-4) in the first round today.
“I think Tanner has a great opportunity with his draw,” South Vermillion coach Ron Stateler said in an email. “He has been working very hard and I think he is ready.”
Semistates involving Wabash Valley wrestlers
Admission at each site — $7
Evansville Reitz — 10 a.m. EST.
New Castle — 9 a.m.