Last year’s Newton wrestling team had two things working against it: a lack of experience and lower-than-usual numbers. It had just one senior on a roster that started with 28 wrestlers and finished with 24. For most of the season, the team was able to fill only 12 of the 14 weight classes, and six of their varsity wrestlers were sophomores or freshmen.
This season, the Cardinals have strength in both those areas they lacked a year ago. They return 11 of those 12 varsity wrestlers, and now 10 of them are upperclassmen.
“We took a lot of lumps last year with only having one senior on the team the past two years,” Newton coach Bill Reed said. “This group of juniors and seniors have had to mature in a hurry.”
Hopefully that maturation has paid off. Twelve of Newton’s returning wrestlers attended a camp out in Colorado over the summer, and Reed said members of the team camping outdoors together also has increased cohesiveness.
“It was good team bonding,” he said. “We’ve had some group meetings about everyone being on the same page. We’re all trying to help each other get better. We’re all working for the same goals.”
Also working in Newton’s favor this season is a big roster. The Cards return plenty of varsity upperclassmen, but have far more new young kids. This year’s roster of 39 includes 17 freshmen and nine sophomores to go along with eight juniors and five seniors. Reed said the goal is to have the team finish the season with 35 wrestlers or more.
But while having 39 kids is a luxury, the team will need to use these next couple weeks and likely the first few competitions of the season to figure out who’s wrestling where. The Cardinals are bunched up at several weight classes, and wrestle-offs during this week will help further determine the varsity lineup for the team’s first meet of the season — a Nov. 29 dual at Knoxville. While last year’s varsity had to forfeit at two weight classes almost all season, Reed said he’d like to have a full lineup this season by the first home dual of the season on Dec. 13.
“Some kids want to get their feet wet on JV before they step up to varsity, and that’s fine,” Reed said about his younger wrestlers.
Reed said the only returning varsity wrestlers he knows for sure what weight class they’ll be at are junior Koby Hull at 106 pounds and senior Derrick Hurt at 285. Hull went 19-19 last year, while Hurt should be one of the top heavyweights in Central Iowa after going 25-6 last year and taking fifth at districts. Junior Ray Schroder is also one to watch this season after he went 22-15 at 195 and took third at districts. At 220, junior Jacob Williams is back after going 9-6 and placing fifth, while senior Tanner Hull looks to improve upon a 15-17 season at 126.
Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Dakota Dawson (132 last year), senior Devin Miller (138), senior Jacob Herduin (152), junior Sean Cook (160), junior Joey Wright (170) and senior Dalton Wolf (182).
Reed said that freshmen Cole Peters, Parker Schuster, Bryce Tish, Payton Thomas and Nicoli Allspach all have potential to help the varsity at various weight classes.