High school wrestling in the Wabash Valley has been thrilling already this season, but promises to get even more exciting as the season enters its home stretch.

Updated individual rankings are expected to be released today or early next week, but they probably won’t clear up much. Some coaches don’t really want their wrestlers to be ranked, and three of the four wrestlers from the Valley who were ranked in the pre-Christmas list have lost to local rivals.

Terre Haute South’s dual-meet victory over Northview earlier this week adds more intrigue to the Northview Sectional, and the Braves can become dual-meet kings of the Valley if they can beat Terre Haute North on Wednesday.

Championship meets for the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference and the Western Indiana Conference are Jan. 12, with sectionals the following Saturday. And several of the postseason weight classes are loaded just among Valley wrestlers.

The four wrestlers in the soon-to-be-updated state rankings, for example, are South’s Jordan Jensen at 112; North’s Tim Willis and South Vermillion’s Wade Bohannon at 125; and Northview’s Zach Stultz at 145.

Jensen lost earlier this week to Northview’s Luke Pingleton, who is undefeated at 112 while splitting his regular-season time between two weight classes. West Vigo veteran Eli Hendricks, last weekend’s Most Valuable Wrestler at the South Vermillion Invitational, is another threat at that weight at the Northview Sectional, “and when [the 112-pounders] get to the regional, the competition will really bump up,” coach Gabe Cook of South said this week.

Or how about the 125-pound class? Willis was ranked 15th and Bohannon 16th because Bohannon’s only loss was a 1-0 decision to Willis, but Willis’s one loss was to West Vigo freshman Ryan Roach. And Roach and WIllis are by no means assured of a rubber match for sectional honors at Northview — Bohannon goes to the Crawfordsville Sectional — because Sullivan’s John Walker is another threat after coming back from a midseason injury, and Jacob Hills of South is coming on strong. The WIC matches among Bohannon, Walker and Roach should be interesting too.

“That’s a tough weight class,” coach Roy Monroe of Sullivan said of the 125-pound section.

“Jacob Hills has really turned it on … and John Walker is one of the best in the state,” added Cook.

The 171-pound class is strong in Vigo County, where North’s Ian Smith, South’s Nick Pullen and West VIgo’s Trey Budd are among the best wrestlers on their respective teams, and there’s a contender for postseason honors virtually everywhere you look in Northview’s lineup.

“Obviously Luke Pingleton [should be ranked],” coach Dan Mikesell said this week. “Stultz is ranked … Beau Pingleton [with three losses to strong opponents] and Brandon Hathaway should be.”

Mikesell points to a strong 135-pound class at the sectional featuring Hathaway and a wrestler from Bloomington South — not to mention Sullivan’s Holden Fudurich and North’s Jeff Willis — with Beau Pingleton possibly meeting a strong wrestler from Edgewood for the 140-pound title. If Stultz is a 145-pounder for the postseason, he’ll have to contend with a sectional group that will include South’s Paul Bennett — the Braves’ dual-meet hero this week — and West Vigo’s Andy Jackson. WIC competition at that weight will also include South Vermillion’s Jake Vandiver.

Other strong postseason candidates, their coaches point out, are South senior Nick Anderson at 160 and Sullivan senior heavyweight Sam Miller. Wrestlers heading north for postseason competition, coach Ron Stateler of South Vermillion said, are led by Bohannon, Vandiver and 130-pounder Caleb Arehart of the Wildcats plus two North Vermillion standouts — undefeated Eric Houmes at 189 and sophomore heavyweight Caleb Miller.

Top two sectional teams also advance to team regionals. Stateler is hoping his team can squeeze past either favored Southmont or North Montgomery for one of those spots from Crawfordsville, while South’s win earlier this week adds another factor to the Northview Sectional that so far has been dominated by Bloomington South, trailed by the Knights.

“I think we are seeing more talent [in the Wabash Valley],” said coach Mark Frisz of North. “The gap is closing [between Bloomington South and the rest of the sectional].”

“I still think we’re a better tournament team [than South], but who knows?” Mikesell said. “Gabe is doing a good job [with the Braves], but we knew he would.”

Among tournaments Saturday are the Sullivan Duals (including Northview), the Indianapolis North Central Invitational (with North and South) and the Edgewood Tournament (including West Vigo and Owen Valley).

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