Regardless of what happens this weekend, Northview senior Jesse Miller can be proud of how his final season of high school wrestling has progressed.
Competing in the 195-pound weight class, he’s posted a 37-10 record so far and finished fourth in the semistate last Saturday at Evansville.
Today is likely to be Miller’s toughest test of the season, however, as he will face 2012 state champion Mitch Sliga (45-0) from Fishers in the first round of the state finals inside Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The first mat action is slated for 6 p.m., with Northview coach Dan Mikesell estimating that Miller vs. Sliga should take place at about 9.
During Sliga’s previous three years in the state finals, he has finished third, third and first respectively, so Miller’s hands will be full.
If Miller loses to Sliga, he’s done for the season. If he wins, he’ll move on to Saturday’s quarterfinals, which start at 9:30 a.m.
“Obviously, it’ll be a tough first round for Jesse,” Mikesell told the Tribune-Star before a light practice Thursday. “We’re going to go up there and enjoy the experience and have fun. We’re going to be aggressive. Jesse will try to score on his feet … do our style of wrestling. We’re going to try to keep doing what got us here.”
“I’m just doing everything I know how to do,” Miller said, adding that he’s trained with former Northview teammate and current Indiana Tech wrestler Aaron See several times this season with the hope of preparing him for a match of this magnitude.
Mikesell mentioned that Sliga is a Greco-Roman All-American.
“He’s pretty solid fundamentally and he’s not going to make many mistakes,” the Knights’ coach continued about Sliga. “So we’ve got to try to be the same way and try to score when the opportunity presents itself.”
Miller insists that despite his opponent’s impressive reputation, “the intimidation factor is out the window.”
“You’ve got to wrestle the man’s body and not his name,” Miller explained.
Mikesell said Miller is Northview’s eighth state-finalist qualifier since he’s been coach for the last 10 years and Miller is Northview’s 10th state finalist in wrestling ever.
Also competing in the 195 class this weekend will be South Putnam junior Rudy Harris (34-5). A third-place finisher in last Saturday’s semistate, he’ll go against Roncalli senior Mason Nickell (37-4) in the first round tonight.