It’s safe to say that what fans saw out of the Batesville varsity wrestling team in Tuesday’s (Nov. 26) season opener will not be indicative of what they can expect by tournament season in January.
With several wrestlers out for various reasons and no fewer than five wrestling up from their listed weight class, the Bulldogs won six of the eight contested matches but came up short to visiting Jennings County, 42-36.
“When you give up five forfeits and you’re already down by 30 points, unfortunately there’s not much you can do,” head coach Curtis Miller said after the dual.
“A lot of kids are out due to injuries, not having enough practices in, or weight certification issues,” he continued. “A couple seniors bumped up classes and that was a big reason we came close to winning.”
One of those upperclassmen opened the night with the first of six Bateville pins. Nick Nobbe, listed at 160 pounds, moved up to 170 to defeat Owen Bonesteel. Ahead 8-2 late in the match, Nobbe secured the pin with just 10.4 seconds on the clock.
At 182 through 220, the Bulldogs sent out wrestlers competing slightly above their comfortable weights.
Senior Axel Garcia battled the Panthers’ Zane Ortlieb to a 0-0 draw through one period. In the second, however, Ortlieb won by fall to tie the meet at six.
Freshman Aaron Norman’s varsity debut had a similar result at 195. Down 2-1 in the second, Norman was pinned by JC’s Richard Puckett.
The next match brought a peak in the gymnasium’s decibel level. After a point-heavy first period with near-falls, reversals and takedowns, sophomore Brandon Manning finally pinned Trea Short to the mat with just 9.7 seconds left.
“That was the most exciting match of the night,” praised Miller. “Brandon did not win a match all last year. Wrestling a bigger, stronger kid, he overcame adversity and got his first win, and pin.”
The Panthers surged ahead by virtue of forfeits at heavyweight and 113 (there was a double forfeit at 106).
Senior Caleb Bischoff-Niese pulled the Dogs closer with a pin of Carson Sorrells with a fraction of a second remaining in the first period at 120 pounds.
Jennings County put the dual out of reach after three consecutive forfeits in the 126-, 132- and 138-pound divisions. The Panthers were up 42-18 with just three matches left.
A trio of veterans made the most of BHS’ comeback attempt to end the night.
Senior JT Linkel, set to have a solid season at 145, needed only 80 seconds to dispatch Jaydon Umila. The pin was the 59th of his career, according to Miller, and puts him closer to the all-time school mark.
Sophomore Josh Mobley then picked up a pin early in the second period at 152 over Gavin Bateman.
In the evening’s final match, senior Jonah Chase – listed at 138 lbs. but wrestling at 160 – needed just over a minute to pin Will Riffell.
Sophomore Jy’lil Chappel competed in a 182-pound junior varsity match, pinned by Vincent Pittman.
“I’m excited about this season,” said Miller. “We have 19 wrestlers, and should be able to fill 13 of the 14 weight classes by the end of the season, and compete with teams with full lineups.”
The victories should arrive with the return of several athletes.
“I feel we’ll have very good individual tournaments when it comes to conference and the postseason,” said the coach. “We have wrestlers who can move on to regional and potentially semistate. Team wins will come in time.”
Batesville (0-1) will next travel to Madison Dec. 2.