In a state where wrestling stands as above all other sports, being good is often not good enough. These guys strive for greatness.
Newton has two boys that will look to make their mark come Thursday at the State Tournament in Des Moines. Senior Derrick Hurt (285 pounds) and junior Ray Schroder (195) will look to step into that tradition of greatness, as they will be proudly representing the Cardinals in the tournament.
State competition is nothing new for Hurt, who has been to state championships in years past as a thrower for the Track and Field team. However, wrestling in Iowa is a whole different animal, and Hurt knows it.
“It’s going to be different because it’s a huge arena with a ton of people watching. There are a lot of people watching at State Track, but it won’t come close to the number of people that will be at Wells Fargo Arena,” Hurt said. “It’s going to be a new experience, but at the same time it’s going to be familiar because of my experience with Track.”
Hurt has worked tirelessly to get to this point. The senior had a dominating season, going 28-4 in his matches with the majority ending with him pinning his opponent. On Thursday, he matches up in the first round against Zach Renshaw from Lewis Central. Renshaw is ranked in the top-10 in the state. That won’t matter to Hurt though, who overcame another top-10 wrestler in Shaquille Wells of Urbandale.
“I haven’t wrestled him before, but he was at the Fort Dodge tournament,” Hurt said. “I know he’s really good. I just have to go out there and do my best. I just want to wrestle really well, and even if I lose, I know it’s not over.”
Newton’s other competitor, Schroder, also had a big season at 32-9, but he pulled off a surprise second place at the district meet. He also recently landed in the top-10 rankings following his finish at the district meet in Ankeny. He was able to score a pin on No. 8 Will Simpkins of Ankeny after a late reversal. He was humbled by his opportunity, and recognized the challenges he would face wrestling in such a new and different environment.
“Competing in Des Moines is an honor to be competing under the bright lights with so many people watching,” Schroder said. It’s going to take a little bit of adjusting.”
Schroder’s first round opponent, Sawyer Kochel of Des Moines Roosevelt, gave Schroder his match of the season. Kochel pulled out a victory over Schroder in the third overtime back in January.
“I want to go out there much like last time, but I want to be more on the offensive,” Schroder said. “I defended him pretty well last time. I wasn’t attacking very much, though. I want to try to take more shots and open him up a little bit more.”
As far as expectations go, both wrestlers have optimistic, yet grounded expectations about their chances against the best in the state.
Hurt has his sights set on the prominent 30-win mark for the season. More than anything else, he will strive to get those necessary victories in order to put him in that class.
“In wrestling, we have a thing with 30 wins where if I can get to 30 wins, I become a state place winner. It’s kind of something I’ve been looking at all year. I want to get to that mark and become a state place winner. That’s a big goal for me.”
While Hurt looks to hit his mark, Schroder sees this as an opportunity to go up against the best in the state and prove he belongs with the elite group of Iowa wrestlers.
“I know it’s going to be really tough. All of the wrestlers that have made it this far are really good,” Schroder said. “My expectations are just to wrestle my best and try to place. I’m confident that if I execute, I can do it.”
With his career as a wrestler at Newton winding down, Hurt had just a moment of reflection before heading off to State on Thursday. He expressed great gratitude and appreciation for the motivation, strategy and patience afforded to him by his coaches.
“I know that the coaching staff has prepared us incredibly well for districts, which we performed really well at. They have a lot of experience with the state tournament. They know what they’re doing and how to prepare everyone. I just put my trust in them. I know they know what they’re doing and they will steer me in the right direction.”
Newton will be wrestling in the Class 3A bracket, which is scheduled to kick off in the afternoon at 2 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Thursday.