CLAYTON — Fielding one of its smallest lineups ever the Northmont varsity wrestling team is hard at work training for its season opening matches in Michigan vs. Brighton High School on Friday, Dec. 8 and then participating in the Howell Highlander Invitational at Howell High School on Saturday, Dec. 9.
Northmont has 21 wrestlers this year, which is way down from its typical lineup of about 35.
“We will be forfeiting three weight classes this year because of the 21 kids we have, nine of them weight over 200 pounds,” said Northmont Coach Scott Newburg. “We have a lot of bigger kids this year so we are short handed in the lower weight classes.”
The team will feature nine freshmen this year and five seniors.
“We had a few kids that decided not to come back out for the team this year and four of them would have been starters, so that is what hurt us the most,” Newburg noted. “We are going to have to try and find some inexperienced kids to stick in there and see if we can work them up to the level of the kids that left last year. After the first three weeks we have a hard working group, but a lot of them are going to have to learn by wrestling in competition this year. We will start out slow and hopefully by the time we reach the end of the season, which is true of any season, these kids will be good enough to compete in the conference, sectional and district tournaments.”
Gabe Newburg, who posted a 30-4 record last season with seven pins at 182 pounds, is one of the wrestlers that opted not to come out for the team this year. His father said Gabe had set other goals that he is trying to reach.
Returning to anchor the team is junior Andrew Knick, who was a state qualifier last year who won a match at state to finish the season 36-5 overall with 15 pins. Last year Knick wrestled at 113 pounds but will compete at 132 pounds this season.
Dylan Moran (28-7, 10 pins) returns at 195 pounds.
“We expect Dylan to take the next step and qualify for the state tournament,” Newburg said.
Ezra Smith (12-18) returns and will probably wrestle at 145 pounds.
“He hasn’t been a district qualifier yet but he did a lot of work in the offseason to build up his strength and did a lot of offseason wrestling, so we expect him to take the next step also,” Newburg commented. “We have a lot of good freshmen coming up. They are a good group of kids that had a lot of success at the junior high level winning the last three Greater Western Ohio Conference titles. We have a good group coming up. It’s just going to be kind of a rebuilding year compared to what we have had in the past.”
Northmont will face Hayes High School in Delaware, Ohio on Saturday, Dec. 16 and then faces Fairmont and Cincinnati Oak Hills at Fairmont on Thursday, Dec. 21. Northmont will end 2017 by competing in the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Tournament on Wednesday, Dec. 27 and Thursday, Dec. 28 at Butler High School. The Thunderbolts will open 2018 by competing in the Fairfield Invitational on Friday, January 5 and Saturday, Jan. 6.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind