Northview’s Jesse Miller provided a couple of the biggest highlights Saturday at Wabash Valley high school wrestlers competed in the Evansville Semistate at Ford Center.
A fourth-place finisher at the Bloomington Regional a week earlier, Miller dominated the third period of a match against regional champion Mitchell Sandlin of Madison, finally getting a pin with a second left, and added a first-period pin of Evansville Central’s Caleb Hart to earn a berth in Friday’s state finals in Conseco Fieldhouse.
Miller lost to Rudy Harris of South Putnam in the third-place match later Saturday, and those two will be the Valley’s lone representatives next week.
Terre Haute South’s Phoenix Adams recovered from an emotional loss in the go round to add two more victories in the wrestlebacks, earning fifth place, while Cody Helms of South, Eric Elia of Terre Haute North and Nick Byrd of Sullivan won first-round matches. Sullivan’s Cory Orndorff, considered to be a favorite to get to the state finals, was an injury default.
Coach Dan Mikesell of Northview was disappointed about the premature end to the career of heavyweight Justin Sampson of the Knights — “One of my favorite wrestlers ever,” the coach said — but happy to be going back to the finals with his 195-pounder.
“[Sandlin] was ranked 16th, and we saw him at the Jeffersonville tournament even though we didn’t wrestle against him,” the coach said. “Jesse kept it close and stayed out of [Sandlin’s] crazy throws.”
Neither wrestler scored in the first period. Sandlin got an escape in the second period, but Miller got a takedown before the Madison wrestler got another escape.
That made the score 2-2 going into the third period, with Miller in the bottom position. He got a quick escape for the lead, added a takedown and worked for the pin in the final second.
The match that sent Miller to the state was a little simpler: a Miller takedown 42 seconds into the match and a pin with 11 seconds left in the first period.
“It feels awesome,” Miller said when asked about his first state-finals appearance. “I’ve worked really hard, and it’s nice to see hard work pay off … I’m still kind of in aftershock a little bit.”
“He’d pinned the Evansville kid before,” Mikesell added. “Jesse was on the brink of beating somebody who was ranked lately, and his breakthrough day came at the right time.”
Sampson, ranked fourth in the state at the end of the regular season, had a tough draw thanks to a tough regional day and lost 4-1 to North Posey’s Austin Little, a wrestler ranked even higher who competed for the 285-pound championship late Saturday night. The Knights were also represented in the first round by Cale McCoy and Shawn Ryann.
South’s biggest semistate contingent ever included Darin Pemberton, David Lewis, Ian Newton and Duane Deerwester.
“It’s a tough tournment,” coach Gabe Cook noted. “They all came out and wrestled hard, but I would have liked to see some of our first-round matches a little bit closer. Duane Deerwester [who lost a crucial point in a close match when one referee overruled another] wrestled very well … and an encouraging thing is that five of these guys [all but Helms] will be back next year.”
Elia was the highlight for the Patriots, also represented by Tyler Gilmore and Ethan Edington.
“Eric wrestled really well, and it was good for him to get to the ticket match,” coach Mark Frisz said. “It’s hard to take those one-point defeats [Elia lost 2-1 in the second round, coming close to match-tying escapes on several occasions], but it wasn’t for lack of effort … Tyler just got caught in a move [for an early pin]; I think it was the first time all year he’s been on his back.”
Orndorff suffered what is believed to be a torn rotator cuff in practice Wednesday. “He’s pretty torn up mentally and physically,” coach Roy Monroe of the Golden Arrows said.
Byrd’s win and an appearance by Jonathan Sullivan provided some solace for the Arrow fans, and Monroe is hopeful about the future.
“We lose five seniors [including Byrd] this year,” he said, “but our eighth-graders have been coming in [to practice … we had five newcomers this year [and still had a good season], so we’ve got some potential.”
Wabash Valley wrestlers
At Evansville Semistate
106 — Cale McCoy (Northview) lost to Isaac Gomez (Plainfield) 5-0.
113 — Darin Pemberton (Terre Haute South) was pinned by Hunter Fox (Cascade) 1:30; Shane Ryann (Northview) lost to Devin Hupp (Indian Creek) 8-6.
120 — David Lewis (Terre Haute South) was pinned by Josh Davis (Evansville Reitz) 1:50.
126 — Cory Orndorff (Sullivan) injury default; Eric Elia (Terre Haute North) pinned Keenan McDaniel (Evansville Central) 2:51; Elia lost to Dalton Noblitt (Columbus East) 2-1; Elia was pinned by Ben Macri (Plainfield) 2:28.
132 — Nick Byrd (Sullivan) defeated Ezra Paden (Corydon) 9-3; Byrd lost to Logan Wedding (Evansville Memorial) 9-3; Byrd lost to Ben Auberry (North Knox) 4-2.
138 — Phoenix Adams (Terre Haute South) defeated Jordan Shearin (Danville) 4-1; Adams lost to Patrick Schnell (Castle) 8-2; Adams defeated Branson Schroeder (Evansville Mater Dei) 12-4; Adams defeated Zach Batts (Cascade) 6-3, fifth place.
145 — Ian Newton (Terre Haute South) lost to Milan Wayant (Columbus East) 17-5; William Newforth (Owen Valley) defeated John Flynn (Jennings County) 12-8; Newforth lost to Brendon Kelley (Evansville Central) 19-4; Newforth was pinned by Matthew Ruddick (Seymour) 3:27.
152 — Tyler Gilmore (Terre Haute North) was pinned by Kyle Stillinger (Columbus East) 0:58; Cody Helms (Terre Haute South) defeated Andrew Jones (Columbus North) 4-1; Helms was pinned by Kody Henshaw (Evansville Memorial) 5:46; Helms was pinned by Jacob Stevenson (Franklin) 4:26.
160 — Jonathan Sullivan (Sullivan) was pinned by Mahlon Perkinson (Evansville Mater Dei) 1:12.
170 — Duane Deerwester (Terre Haute South) lost to Jimmy Fisher (Columbus East) 3-1; Larry Shaffer (Owen Valley) defeated Ian Bagwell (Floyd Central) 11-3; Shaffer lost to Garrett Fentz (Franklin) 5-2; Shaffer defeated Dominique Davis (Bloomington North) 3-1; Shaffer lost to Alex Schneider (Evansville Mater Dei) 10-4, sixth place.
182 — Tanner Thompson (South Putnam) lost to Sam Bassmier (Evansville Mater Dei) 3-1.
195 — Jesse Miller (Northview) pinned Mitchell Sandlin (Madison) 5:59; Rudy Harris (South Putnam) defeated Rashawn Jefferson (Vincennes Lincoln); Miller pinned Caleb Hart (Evansville Central) 1:49; Harris defeated Moises Valenciano (Jasper) 7-4; Miller lost to Clayton Fiddler (Bloomington South) 7-1; Harris lost to Kalob Salkill (South Spencer) 8-4; Harris defeated Miller 5-2 in third- and fourth-place match.
220 — Jacob Williams (South Putnam) lost to Boyd Haley (Bloomington South) 3-1; Ethan Edington (Terre Haute North) was pinned by Connor Tolley (Franklin) 4:58.
285 — Justin Sampson (Northview) lost to Austin Little (North Posey) 4-1.
At New Castle Semistate
138 — Jacob Thurman (Rockville) lost to Christian Cox (Hagerstown) 14-2.
182 — Jeff Girdler (Turkey Run) was pinned by Jake Masengale (Perry Meridian) 1:09.