GRINNELL—The Newton wrestling team took home four individual awards at the Little Hawkeye Conference tournament on Saturday in Grinnell.
The host Grinnell Tigers won the team competition with a total of 257 points followed by the Cardinals (250.5) and the Knoxville Panthers (241) finished third.
It was an extremely impressive showing for the Cardinals, and had a few matches swung the other direction, they could have come out on top.
The Cardinals came out of the season finishing fourth overall in conference duals, but managed to get a few unexpected big performances that kept them within a pin of first place up until the final decision went down.
The effort was not lost on Newton coach Bill Reed who, despite getting thrown out of the tournament for disputing a pin, was pleased with his team’s overall showing.
“I’m happy with the way we wrestled today. We came out hard and trying to win a conference championship” Reed said. “There was a match here and a match there that maybe got away from us, but overall the guys really wrestled well. They tried to get points, bonus points and really go for that team title.”
Despite taking second in the overall scoring, the Cardinals had the most wrestlers win their weight class out of all six schools. Newton sent four wrestlers to the top of the podium: senior Derrick Hurt (285 pounds), senior Tanner Hull (120), junior Jacob Williams (220) and junior Koby Hull (106).
“(Williams) probably had one of his best days as a wrestler and it’s nice for him to end the season a conference champion.” Reed said. “Tanner Hull being a conference champ was big for us as a team and for him because he won on a technical fall and the other kids won on straight decisions. So, I’m proud of all our guys because everybody picked up points today.”
The performance by Hurt was impressive as always. The senior pinned his four opponents in a combined 64 seconds.
He was very pleased with his individual effort and joked about his preference for pins over decisions afterwards.
“It means a lot to go out there and get very solid wins. I really wanted it for my team.” Hurt said. “I always want to get a pin because being out there for six minutes is a long time and it feels good to get six points for my team.”
Newton’s effort very nearly got them to the very top of the team scoreboard. One match stood out for more reasons than one: the 132-pound final. In what turned out to be one of the most contentious and crucial matches of the afternoon, Grinnell’s Josh Crawford scored the pin on the Cardinals’ Dakota Dawson on the very last tick on the scoreboard.
That was not exactly what Reed saw, however; and his subsequent tirade got him sent to the locker room for the remainder of the meet.
“I thought time ran out. I thought time was out when the referee called the pin,” Reed said. “I would make that contention every single time. I never heard my bench warning so to be ejected was a total surprise.”
This was an especially surprising team performance because the Cardinals lost their home dual to Dallas Center-Grimes earlier in the week. However, one possible explanation for the performance boost could be the much more fast paced and high intensity environment that the conference meets present. The wrestlers feed off the crowd and the energy from their coaches.
With Reed unable to oversee all of his team’s matches with three mats going for a majority of the day, he had to lean more on his assistants, especially following his aforementioned ejection.
“I’m sure it was tough on my assistants, especially when I had to go outside for the rest of the meet,” Reed said. “We have a good staff. I divided the assistants up so that they each have a set of kids their responsible for. So it worked out because we had enough coaches to cover all the spots.
Reed also pointed to the longevity of the meet as opposed to anything else as he emphasized the team’s rigorous training schedule.
“We train really hard and we’re in pretty good shape. So, we prefer these big meets where our guys get to wrestle four or five times in a day,” Reed said. “It gives us an advantage because we train so hard.”
The Cardinals will be ready to show some of the rest of the state what they are made of when they travel to Ankeny on February 9 for regional completion.
1. Grinnell 257; 2. Newton 250.5; 3. Knoxville 241; 4. Oskaloosa 203; 5. Norwalk 199; 6. Pella 81
106, Tanner Hull 3-0, first; 113, Jac Fisher 1-2, third; 120, Koby Hull 4-1, first; 126, Bryce Tish 0-4, fifth; 132, Dakota Dawson 4-1, second; 138, Brett Northcutt 1-3, fourth; 152, Jacob Herduin 3-1, second; 160, Cale Hunter 1-3, fourth; 170, Sean Cook 0-4, fifth; 182, Joey Wright 1-3, fourth; 195, Ray Schroder 3-1, second; 220, Jacob Williams 4-0, first; 285, Derrick Hurt 4-0, first