Jake Adkins is only a sophomore, but he already has reached the Division II state tournament twice for the Northridge High School wrestling team.
He competed at 106 pounds at state, which was held Feb. 28 through March 2 at Ohio State, and predicted any success that he might have would come from the mental aspect of the sport.
"It's pretty nerve-racking being there with the amount of people there," said Adkins, who was one of three Vikings to qualify for state. "The first time you are there, that's something you have to deal with. You have to be mentally strong. You've done what you can physically, now everything is mental."
Adkins won the title at 106 in the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo. Senior teammate Thomas Williams was the champion at 145 and junior Rob Mickey was third at 160 as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
Senior Shane Mulligan was fifth at 132 and was a state alternate.
Adkins opened the state tournament by defeating Zachary Davie of Troy Christian 12-6 on Feb. 28. He then lost to Elmore Woodmore's Evan Ulinski 15-0 on March 1 before beating Upper Sandusky's Thurston Dyer 1-0 in a consolation match to move his record to 51-5.
Williams followed Adkins' path. He opened with a 10-1 victory over Michael Baer of Bloomdale Elmwood. He lost to Matt Buxton of New Lebanon Dixie 9-4 in a quarterfinal and defeated Drew Keenan of Genoa Area 8-3 in a consolation match to improve to 58-4.
Mickey ended his season at 44-10. He opened state by losing to Kurt Moore of Creston Norwayne by pin before defeating Upper Sandusky's Cory Frey 11-9. He then lost to Mechanicsburg's Max Erwin 8-1.
"We were really happy with district," coach Eric Potts said. "We set a team goal to win 20 matches and we won exactly that amount. We kind of thought that would put us where we needed to be."
Northridge finished as the district runner-up (91.5 points) behind Amanda-Clearcreek (147.5) as 54 teams scored.
Adkins went 4-0 at district. He defeated Martins Ferry's Theodore Zoumpolidis 6-0 in the final.
Williams went 4-0, defeating Shadyside's Ian Baker 2-1 in final. He entered state at 56-3.
Mickey went 4-1 and defeated Amanda-Clearcreek's Steven Fearnow 5-3 in the third-place match.
Mulligan went 4-2 to improve to 45-13. He won by default over Danville's Cade Mickley in the fifth-place match.
Also competing at district were seniors Drew Mullen (1-2, 48-13 overall) at 138, Zach Rudy (2-2, 32-21) at 182 and Anthoney Verhovec (1-2, 37-11) at heavyweight, and juniors John Barber (0-2, 27-26) at 195, Parker Fox (0-2, 25-19) at 170 and Wade Stischok (0-2, 20-18) at 152.
Boys team expects nucleus to return
The boys basketball team finished 7-16 overall after losing 78-63 at 10th-seeded West Jefferson on Feb. 23 in the opening round of the Division III district tournament.
Senior forward Sean Higgins led Northridge with 16 points. Senior guard Hayden Warner and junior forward Matt Grindle both had 12 points and sophomore guard Gavin Shank added 10.
The Vikings finished sixth (4-10) in the MBC behind Fredericktown (13-1), Danville (10-4), Johnstown-Monroe (10-4), Utica (9-5) and Centerburg (6-8) and ahead of East Knox (3-11) and Loudonville (1-13).
"We had a young team, and we should have a lot of talent coming back," said coach Ben Patrick, who completed his first season. "This was much more of a learning season than I had anticipated. We were much better than our record and we were pretty much in every game we played."
The Vikings were led in scoring by sophomore guard Chad Campbell, who averaged 14.3 points along with 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals. He was honorable mention all-district.
Seniors included forward Brady Charles, guard/forward Kaleb Crump (4.6 points, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals), Higgins (6.9 points, 4.7 rebounds) and Warner (9.2 points, 2.7 assists, 2.4 steals).
"I wish I could have one more year with the seniors," Patrick said. "I could never take Hayden off of the floor. He was the heart and soul of the team with his leadership and hustle.
"Sean was a great rebounder and Kaleb played strong defensively. Brady left everything he had on the floor."
Expected back are Grindle (11.9 points, 5.8 rebounds), Shank (6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds), juniors Jake Neff (center), Ryan Trimble (guard) and Chris Wilkoski (forward) and sophomores David Butt (guard) and Bryant Garee (guard).
"We really have a good core group of players coming back," said Patrick, whose team is moving to the new Licking County League. "If they come out and work hard in the summer, and with them already having one year of our system under their belts, you will see an improvement. Experience always helps."
Girls team finishes final MBC season
The girls basketball team finished 2-21 overall after losing to Centerburg 53-39 on Feb. 16 in the opening round of the Division III district tournament.
Junior guard Sara Pribonic led Northridge with 18 points and senior forward Lydia George added seven.
In its final MBC season before moving to the LCL, Northridge finished eighth (1-13) behind Johnstown (12-2), Utica (12-2), Centerburg (10-4), Fredericktown (10-4), Danville (5-9), East Knox (4-10) and Loudonville (2-12).
Pribonic averaged a team-high 13.8 points to go with 5.5 rebounds and two steals per game. George was the lone senior for the Vikings, who were led by first-year coach Fred Davis in his second stint with the program.
In addition to Pribonic, expected to return are juniors Summer Prevost (forward) and Heidi Wolfe (guard), sophomores Sarah George (guard), Belinda Marcum (post player) and Mikaela Pankuch (guard) and freshmen Jillian Choberka (guard/forward), Savannah Legg (post player), Jamie Swickard (forward), Haley Trimble (guard/forward) and Emily Wilson (guard).