TERRE HAUTE —
Of the four men who guide the high school wrestling programs in Vigo County and at Northview, the least amount of previous head-coaching experience for any of them is five years.
That means they’ve all been around the block — or mat — a few times.
So when they say competition among each of these teams should be fierce this season, their words should not be taken lightly.
With seasons already under way, here is a look at how each could end up faring throughout 2012-13:
• Northview — Having begun his 10th season as coach, Dan Mikesell is ready for the Knights to travel to Owen Valley tonight for a Western Indiana Conference (WIC) match. So far, they own a 3-3 overall mark.
Mikesell has several wrestlers who did well in the Shamrock Duals last Saturday at Westfield — freshman Cale McCoy in the 106-pound weight division, junior Shane Ryan at 120, freshman Stephen Gibson at 126, junior Trey Boor at 145, senior Jesse Miller at 195, senior Zach Williams at 220 and senior Justin Sampson at 285.
Forced to sit out Saturday’s tournament was sophomore 132-pounder Trance Kelly, who’s been battling a staph infection.
Mikesell offered particularly kind words about the promising McCoy.
“He’s been in our youth program for several years,” the Knights’ coach pointed out. “We’re expecting good things out of him.”
Mikesell also praised Boor because “he took some lumps when he was younger.”
“But he’s a lot more mature and athletic now,” the coach continued. “I’m expecting him to have a breakout season.”
Looking ahead, Mikesell thinks Northview should contend for the WIC title and should place in the top three in the sectional, even though his squad lacks experience between the 152 and 182 classes.
“We’re just going to have to be patient with them [those wrestling in the 152, 160, 170 and 182 classes] and help them along,” Mikesell mentioned.
“We’re making progress. We’re kind of in a rebuilding phase. … But it’s a hard-working group to be around.”
• Terre Haute North — With 22 seasons as the Patriots’ coach under his belt, Mark Frisz has good news and bad news regarding his lineup.
The good news is he has 2011-12 semistate qualifier J.J. Low (120) back for another season. The bad news is Low, a junior, has been battling a knee injury and probably won’t return to action until later this month.
“As hard as he works and as much as he’s improved in the off-season, he’s capable of going as far as he wants,” Frisz emphasized.
The Patriots are currently 3-3 for the season.
Other key contributors are senior Eric Elia at 126, senior Caleb Ingle at 138, junior Tyler Gilmore at 152, junior Ryan Moshak at 170, junior Zach Schmidt at 195 (and occasionally 220), injured junior Ethan Edington at 220 (may not be available until January) and senior Andrew Londo at 285.
Actually, the situations of Gilmore and Londo are unique. Gilmore wrestled for North as a freshman two years ago, then moved to Florida last year and returned to Terre Haute this year, while Londo missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.
Another significant contributor should be junior 132-pounder Austin Bishop, a first-year varsity wrestler who went 4-1 in the Hill Classic last Saturday at Evansville Reitz.
On a down note for the Patriots, who have only 23 athletes on the roster, they probably won’t have anyone in the 106 or 182 classes all season and they won’t have a back-up for the starter in several other classes.
“We have pretty good experience in the lineup,” Frisz assessed. “The thing we’ll be battling right now is injuries. I still think we’ve got enough talent that we can overcome these forfeits.”
Asked about the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC), Frisz predicted Warren Central will be the team to beat, although Terre Haute South shouldn’t be bad either.
“Looks like South is off to a good start,” he said. “All the schools around here seem to be pretty competitive.”
Frisz will find out how competitive West Vigo is tonight when the Vikings come to North’s gym for a meet.
• Terre Haute South — Sixth-year coach Gabe Cook has guided the Braves to a 6-4 start that included a fifth-place finish in the Shamrock Duals on Saturday.
They’ll be back in action this Saturday when they head to Northview for the Gregory S. Stultz Memorial Tourney. Other schools competing will be South Vermillion, Plainfield and Martinsville.
Some of South’s best records so far belong to senior Ryan Uppal (10-0 at 106), sophomore David Lewis (8-2 at 120), senior Nathan Arguello (10-0 at 126), junior Phoenix Adams (8-2 at mostly 138), senior four-year starter Cody Helms (8-2 at 160), junior Duane Deerwester (9-1 at 170). Other key returnees include junior Ian Newton at 145, sophomore C.J. Williams at 152 and junior Alex Mimms at 285.
“I feel like we still have a couple guys settling in to their weights,” Cook told the Tribune-Star, adding that several of his wrestlers have a chance to make a run at the state finals. “We had a great week of practice last week and we’re finally starting to gel as a team.”
Adams, a semistate qualifier last season, has competed at 145 and 152 in the early part of this season, but Cook envisions him settling in at 138.
“He’s going to be at 138 the rest of the year,” Cook insisted. “I feel he can make a really deep run, if he keeps training the way he has been training. Arguello too.”
Cook rattled off Warren Central and Center Grove as the likely top teams in the MIC.
• West Vigo — Thirteenth-year coach Scott Rohrbach described his wrestlers as “young hard workers.”
“It’s one of the hardest-working groups we’ve had for a while,” he added.
Among his returnees are senior and 2011-12 semistate qualifier Jacob Creasey at 145 (recovering from a football injury); seniors Jacob Riley at 285, Sam Bowden at 132, Kevin Stewart at 160 and Gage Lynch at 120; and junior Sam McClain at 182.
The Vikings will take a 5-3 record into their match at Terre Haute North tonight.
Rohrbach anticipates Northview being the team to beat in the WIC, with West Vigo hanging with the other top contenders.
“We have depth in a few classes,” he mentioned. “But in some others, we’re only one deep. We just need to stay healthy.”
• Elsewhere — Sullivan has back junior Cory Orndorff at 126, senior Nick Byrd at 132, senior Colt Thompson at 138, junior Jon Sullivan at 160 and sophomore Hunter McCoy at 195. … For South Vermillion, Tanner Bishop (106) and Tanner Waldrop (138) each finished 5-0 in the Fountain Central Invitational last Saturday.