Jan. 25—Wabash Valley high school wrestlers begin their postseason trips at 9 a.m. Saturday at Bloomington North, hoping to earn one more trip to Bloomington and two jaunts to Evansville in the following three weeks.
The 11-team sectional at Bloomington North includes wrestlers from Bedford North Lawrence, Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Brown County, Edgewood, Northview, Owen Valley, Sullivan and the three Vigo County schools.
Top four wrestlers in each of the 14 classes Saturday go back to Bloomington the following Saturday for the Bloomington South Regional, and then semistate and state-finals competitions will both be at Evansville's Ford Center (the National Basketball Association All-Star Game makes Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the usual site of the finals, unavailable).
And although team scores at this point in the season may take a back seat to individual advancement, defending champion Terre Haute South looks like the on-paper favorite to repeat. All 14 of coach Gabe Cook's wrestlers are seeded, including six No. 1 seeds: Nathan Bryan, Josiah Dedeaux, Noah Fields, Cooper McCloy, Collin Casad and Sean Murphy.
The Braves have four second seeds, three third seeds and one fourth seeds, which means that South, as it did a year ago, could advance its entire team to regional matches.
"We're in a really good spot," Cook admitted recently. "We've got to show up to train the way we need to train, but the guys have some pretty high goals and that all starts with sectionals."
The other eight top-seeded wrestlers include two from perennial contender Bloomington South, last year's runner-up; two from Owen Valley and Edgewood, fourth and fifth respectively in 2023; and one each from Bloomington North and Brown County.
Northview was third in the sectional last year and has five seeded wrestlers: second-seeded Devyn Orman and three third seeds.
Terre Haute North could move up after finishing seventh a year ago with eight seeded wrestlers, including second seeds Cain Godsey, Ayden Muncie, James Hastings and Jevon Hagans. Four other Patriots are seeded fourth.
"One match at a time," said Patriot coach Beau Pingleton about his team's strategy. "We've seen most of the teams. We have to stay consistent with our training ... and I expect [the Patriots] to be fired up."
West Vigo has one seeded wrestler, Jordan Krause at 165, and Sullivan doesn't have any.
—Elsewhere — North Vermillion, Parke Heritage, Riverton Parke and South Vermillion will compete Saturday at the Crawfordsville Sectional.
It's the first postseason appearance for Riverton Parke, a first-year program.