By Matt Anderson
— Ben Davis wrestling coach Aaron Moss is seeing a little bit of déjà vu to begin the 2012 season.
Last year, the Giants suffered a number of season-ending injuries before the season even got under way. This year, they have a couple wrestlers out indefinitely, one being senior James Sims.
Last year, they were almost without one of their best wrestlers in senior Clayton Davenport. It took a little extra convincing for him to come out but when it was all said and done, he claimed a sectional and regional championship.
This year, a few potential varsity guys were no shows, including Mikhail Randall. He was a three-year varsity letterman and reached semi-state last year.
His departure solidifies the Giants once again as a young team. However, they have a solid sophomore class and some strong senior leadership in Gage Norris, Cesar Gutierrez, and their best wrestler, Levi Moss.
“We had some kids that didn’t make it out and we’ve got some veteran leaders,” Moss said. “Obviously, Levi is our most experienced guy in the room and hopefully, if all goes well, he makes it back to the state tournament.”
Levi Moss was the only Giant to make a state appearance last season. He finished the year 38-9 and sits at 119 career wins, five shy of the school record.
On paper, it was Moss’ worst year with the Giants. Yet, that was mostly due to the fact that he met the 132-pound state champion Jared McKinley on five occasions, losing each time.
“We gave him a run for his money a couple of times,” coach Moss said. “He lost more matches as a junior and he was wrestling better than he ever had.”
With McKinley graduated, it should elevate Moss to one of top three wrestlers in his class.
“We’re looking to hopefully pull out a state title,” coach Moss said. “I think we’ve got the ability, he’s working like he needs to work, and I feel like he’s got the mentality.”
How the sophomores follow up on their freshmen seasons will really determine how the Giants end up as a team.
Norman Oglesby is in a heavyweight battle with junior Guy Henson. Moss believes both have the potential to be state qualifiers but can only go with one in the weight class.
“I’ve got two kids that would be varsity starters on all but maybe 15, 20 teams,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that one has to sit out. I’m going to send a kid to a JV meet and they’re going to think I’m crazy.”
Kasha’ Wilder comes back from a 20-win freshman season and Dylan Lydy returns as well. Lydy spent part of his summer in Fargo, N.D., as a member of Team Indiana in the USA Wrestling Cadet National Championships.
“Nobody’s really giving those guys any credit at all, so we’re kind of excited about it,” Moss said. “They don’t think much of it so we’ll be surprising some people with the sophomore talent we’ve got.”