NEWTON — Pace and points.
Newton Senior High’s new head wrestling coach Andy Swedenhjelm is excited about opening the 2013-14 season. The first-year head coach saw some of this 54 wrestlers over the summer at a team camp they attended.
“There a solid understanding of fundamentals here. We’re out to build on that with set foundation of how we wrestle from the youth program right up to the high school level,” Swedenhjelm said. “We have depth at all levels on our high school team, meaning we’re balanced in numbers in each grade.”
Swedenhjelm, who spent the past three years as an assistant wrestling coach at Ottumwa High School, has set high expectations for his athletes this year. He said he has told the Cardinals, the team goal is the Iowa state duals.
“To get there, the kids have to work hard. We’re going to be a super aggressive team on the mat. We want to set a quick pace on the mat to score lots of points and get lots of pins,” he said.
Swedenhjelm is also excited about the end of the 2013-14 regular season — Newton will be hosting a Class 3A district tournament. He said that will be great to have the Cardinal wrestlers at home working toward state tournament berths in front of the home crowd.
Leading the way back are seniors Ray Schroder at 195 pounds, Koby Hull at 106, Joey Wright at 220, Jacob Williams at 285, Sean Cook at 160, Mac Icenbice at 182, and Cale Hunter at 160. Junior back on the mat are Dakota Dawson at 138, Jac Fisher at 113, Brett Wolf at 145, Jeffery Thongvanh at 170, Cole Doerring at 195, and Eduardo Valle at 132.
Schroder is Newton’s only returning state qualifier. He finished second at the district last year in the 195-pound class. He was ranked 10th in Class 3A going into district. Schroder went 1-2 at the 3A state tournament, ending up with a 33-11 record.
Hull is back at 106 for the Cardinals after a 34-7 run a year ago. Hull placed third at the district tournament. Dawson was third in the 132-pound class at district last year. He was ranked eighth in Class 3A at that weight, finishing 33-9 overall.
Williams also placed third at the district at 220. Cook placed fifth at 170 in the district tournament. Sophomore Bryce Tish, who was 13-27, and Fisher, who was 9-14, each took sixth at the district at 126 and 113, respectively.
Wright produced a 10-12 varsity mark at the 182-pound weight. Thongvanh was 13-13.
“I’ve been impressed with the dedication and hard work our kids have shown so far. We have a great group of seniors to lead the team. Ray and Koby are two strong competitors to build a program around,” Swedenhjelm said. “I believe the whole team will take a nice step forward this season. We have a solid sophomore class.”
Along with Tish, the sophomores back are Alex Bentley and Cole Peters at 120, Harley Walker at 138, Jacob Smith at 195, Jordan Henning at 182, Parker Schuster at 120, Trevor Miller at 132, Mike Welcher at 126, Ronnie Clark at 285, West Spangenburg at 195, Nick Geerlings at 145 and Hunter Versteegh at 106.
Swedenhjelm said freshman Brady Smith, Payton Patterson and Justice Borger have shown promise and should see some varsity time this season.
“We have great competition in the practice room. The guys are pushing each other and that will make everybody better. We’ll fill all the 14 weight classes. My goal for this team is to send four or five wrestlers to state. You set high expectations for them and they’ll reach for them,” Swedenhjelm said.
The Cardinals are working on mastering certain moves Swedenhjelm considers the basics to build on. He said the fundamentals of working on your feet, working off the bottom position along with setting up takedowns provide wrestlers with a strong foundation on the mat.
Swedenhjelm’s assistant coaches are Matt Stillman, Adam Hale and Carl Smith.
Newton opens the season at home Dec. 5 with a home dual with Knoxville. Then it is the Newton Invitational on Dec. 7. The Cardinals aren’t home again until Jan. 9, 2014.