Pair of Vikings place at state
A record-setting season for the Northridge High School wrestling team ended with another for the program at the Division III state tournament: two state placers.
Senior 145-pounder Thomas Williams finished fourth for the second consecutive season and sophomore Jake Adkins was eighth at 106 to become the first two Vikings to reach the awards podium in the same season at state, which was held Feb. 28 through March 2 at Ohio State.
"We have had a lot of firsts this season and I couldn't be more proud of these kids," said coach Eric Potts, whose team tied Lima Central Catholic for 30th (18 points) at state behind champion Troy Christian (95.5) as 94 teams scored. "We even had two place at state for the first time. It's amazing."
The Vikings also won their first Licking County championship, reached a semifinal in the inaugural Division III state team tournament and won their first MBC and sectional titles.
Williams lost to Delta's Tyler Fahrer 3-0 in the third-place match to go 3-2 at state. He went 60-4 on the season and finished with a career record of 218-23.
"I definitely have had some ups and downs when I look back over things, but this is great to place (at state) two years in a row," said Williams, who competed at 138 last season. "I love our coaches and everything they have done for me. It's been a long ride, but it seems like yesterday that I walked into that (practice) room for the first time."
Adkins (51-7) lost to Manchester's Joey Brown 13-2 in the seventh place-match. He went 2-3 in his second appearance at state.
"This is much more gratifying than last year (going 0-2 at 106)," Adkins said. "One of my goals was to get back here and get up on the podium. Now I need to get back here and move up some steps."
Also competing at state was junior Rob Mickey, who was 1-2 at 160 to finish 44-10.
Adkins and Williams won district titles and Mickey finished third as Northridge placed second (91.5) in the tournament held Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo. Amanda-Clearcreek (147.5) won and 54 teams scored.
Senior Shane Mulligan was a state alternate by placing fifth at district at 132. He went 4-2 at district and finished 43-8.
Also competing at district were seniors Drew Mullen (1-2, 48-13) 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.
Northridge won the 15-team sectional Feb. 15 and 16 at Cardington, scoring 206.5 points to outdistance runner-up Galion Northmor (158).
The Vikings reached the eight-team state-dual tournament Feb. 9 at Ohio State's St. John Arena and defeated Amanda-Clearcreek 35-33 when Verhovec pinned Seth Hollett at heavyweight in 4 minutes, 48 seconds. That sent the Vikings to a semifinal, where they lost to Massillon Tuslaw 51-15. Delta beat Tuslaw 52-17 in the final.
To reach state, Northridge defeated visiting Hartley 44-16 on Feb. 6 to win the Region 22 title.
The Vikings captured their first league title by winning the MBC Duals on Feb. 2, easily outdistancing Loudonville 395-235. The Redbirds had won six of the previous seven MBC titles. Centerburg was third (231), followed by Utica (184), host Fredericktown (138), Johnstown-Monroe (132), Danville (131) and East Knox (65).
Winning titles for the Vikings were Adkins (106), Mickey (160), Mullen (138) and Williams (152). Junior Alex Arnold (126, 29-19 overall), junior A.J. Mooney (220, 17-17), Mulligan (132), Rudy (182), Stischok (145) and Verhovec (heavyweight) were runners-up, and freshman Michael Holly (113, 21-23), Fox (170) and Barber (195) all placed third.
Northridge (276) won the Licking County Tournament on Dec. 22 at Licking Heights, finishing ahead of three-time defending champion Licking Valley (250). Williams (152) and Verhovec (heavyweight) repeated as champions and Mullen (138) and Adkins (106) won their first titles.
The Vikings had six seniors in Levi Hatfield (170), Mullen, Mulligan, Rudy, Verhovec and Williams.
"It's really hard to lose this group of seniors," Potts said. "They all went through the youth program and they are part of wrestling families and wrestling backgrounds. They really understand the sport and what it takes to be successful."
Also expected back are junior Ryan Strong (113), sophomores Brennan Angus (160) and Hunter Reese (160) and freshmen Sam Doran (132), Jacob McNamara (120) and Mason Royer (160).
"Everything we did this season puts us in line for next year," Potts said. "I'm sure there are still a lot of good things to come."