Rob Mickey never gave much thought to being injured on the wrestling mat, but that changed Jan. 25 in the Jimmy Wood Memorial at New Lexington.
As the Northridge High School senior was standing up to escape Granville's Dain Steffeny in a triple-overtime semifinal match at 160 pounds, he was overcome by pain.
"When I went to stand up, I went to dive and my leg stayed in place," said Mickey, who lost to Steffeny 2-1 and later defaulted the third-place match. "I guess you could say that it was like someone was hitting my (left) knee with a hammer.
"I had been wrestling since I was in kindergarten and had never been hurt. I'm a senior and all I could think of was this could be it."
Mickey was diagnosed with a sprained MCL. He knew the LCL tournament Feb. 1 at Licking Heights was no longer a possibility, so he set his sights on returning for the Division III sectional Feb. 14 and 15 at Magnolia Sandy Valley.
Two weeks into the postseason, Mickey had added sectional and district titles to his resume and a second trip to the state tournament, which was held Feb. 27-March 1 at Ohio State.
"I told Rob that he's a senior and it was up to him whether he came back or not," coach Eric Potts said. "He's the only one who truly knows how his leg feels and what he would be able to do."
Mickey, who last year went 1-2 at state at 160, was hesitant when he stepped back on the mat.
"I didn't know how it would go," said Mickey, who entered state at 37-7 overall after going 8-0 at sectional and district. "I probably didn't feel like I was back until my semifinal match in sectional. That was my first decent match.
"I was wrestling hard and it didn't seem to bother me, though (the injury) is always in the back of my mind."
Mickey had pins of 26 seconds and 1:45 along with two major decisions at sectional, including an 11-1 victory over Utica's William Sturm in the final.
In the district tournament Feb. 21 and 22 at Heath, Mickey had pins of 3:12 and 5:50 before defeating Bainbridge Paint Valley's Teagen McFadden 9-1 in a semifinal and Hartley's Jacob Croswell 5-3 in the final.
"I have to baby my leg as much as I can, and I try to get the match over with as soon as possible," said Mickey, whose team finished 10th (56 points) at district behind champion Hartley (107.5) as 50 teams scored. "I don't ride legs anymore and I try to put pressure on the other leg when I do a stand-up."
Potts said practice has been limited for Mickey since the injury, but that has not kept him out of the wrestling room.
"Rob's at practice every day and he's been in the room with the team," Potts said. "He jumps rope, stretches with the team, but mostly sits out of drills. He's been there to help out by motivating and helping to instruct his teammates."
Also at district, junior Jake Adkins earned his third consecutive state berth by winning the title at 106. He entered state at 46-4. Last year at state, he was eighth at 106.
Freshman Steele Strout (120) went 2-2 to finish 24-13. Senior Alex Arnold (145; 12-28 overall), senior Jonathan Barber (220; 19-18) and sophomore Jacob Maynard (132; 28-12) all went 0-2 at district.
Boys basketball team loses in first round
The boys basketball team finished 7-16 overall, losing to 10th-seeded and host Fredericktown 61-53 on Feb. 22 in the first round of the Division III district tournament.
Senior guard Matt Grindle led the 11th-seeded Vikings with 25 points and junior guard Gavin Shank had 12. Junior guards Chad Campbell and Bryant Garee both added five points.
Campbell led Northridge in scoring (12.7 points per game), followed by Grindle (12.4).
The Vikings finished eighth (5-13) in the LCL, behind Granville (16-2), Johnstown-Monroe (15-3), Newark Catholic (14-4), Licking Valley (11-7), Licking Heights (9-9), Lakewood (9-9) and Watkins Memorial (8-10) and ahead of Heath (3-15) and Utica (0-18).
Seniors were Grindle, forward Jacob Neff and forward Chris Wilkoski.
Expected to return are juniors David Butt (guard), Campbell, Garee, Clayton Nicks (guard), Shank, Evan Wilkoski (guard), Brad Wilson (guard) and Greg Wilson (guard).
Northridge was led by second-year coach Ben Patrick, who resigned following the season to spend more time with his family.
Girls basketball team falls to eighth seed
The girls basketball team finished 11-13, losing to eighth-seeded Liberty Union 41-18 on Feb. 25 in a Division III district semifinal at Granville.
It was the second appearance in a district semifinal in three seasons for the 14th-seeded Vikings.
Junior Belinda Marcum led Northridge with 14 points and senior Sara Pribonic added four.