CLAYTON — This year the Northmont varsity wrestling team has a solid base of 10 returning starters in its lineup that should help the Thunderbolts continue their long tradition as one of the top teams in the area.
Of the 10 returning starters Luke Holloway, suffered a season-ending injury when he broke his foot. Holloway compiled a 22-14 last year.
“Without him we lose a weight class because we don’t have anyone to take his spot and we will have to forfeit that weight class all season long,” lamented Northmont Coach Scott Newburg.
The team features 28 wrestlers, but only of those are seniors. Returning starters include Ezra Smith who was 14-21 in the 126 pound weight class last year. Hunter Terrill was 19-15 wrestling at 132 pounds. Chad Craft was 41-1 in the 113 pound weight class and was a state qualifier. Chase Craft was 37-3 in the 120 pound weight class and also qualified for state.
Josh Winston went 17-17 at 145 pounds last year. Weston Hoening went 6-17 at 152 pounds. Dylan Moran went 29-14 overall wrestling at 195 pounds. Gabe Newburg went 30-12 at 182 pounds. Chuck Saul was 14-9 in the 220 pound weight class and Brian Heyward posted a record of 16-15 wrestling at 170 pounds last year.
“One of those nine might end up on the bench after we figure what weight class everybody fits into,” Newburg said. “It’s kind of hard to put a district qualifier on the bench, but that just might be the way it works out. Last year our talent was kind of spread throughout the weight classes, but this year we have three kids within five pounds of each other that were district qualifiers. From year to the next a kid’s body growth and weight can change dramatically so it changes the dynamics of your team.”
Northmont placed second in the Greater Western Ohio Conference the last two years, but this year Newburg would like to see his team take the next step and win the title outright.
“I think we have a team that has the talent to do it. We just have to go out on the mat and wrestler the best that we can and avoid any more injuries that will take guys out of the lineup,” Newburg noted. “This probably the toughest schedule we’ve had.”
Northmont will be traveling to Michigan again this year to participate in the Howell Highlander Invitational that features many of that state’s top teams. In addition to Thunderbolts will face Brighton High School the day before the Howell tournament. Brighton captured the Michigan state championship a few years ago and will be a tough test for the Thunderbolts.
Northmont will also travel to Columbus for tournament at Delaware Hayes and will head south a few times for the Fairfield Invitational and to participate in a quad meet at Lakota West.
“According to what we have talent wise I wanted to challenge our kids a little bit by entering some tournaments that will make them better wrestlers by the end of the season,” Newburg said. “Andrew Knick, a freshman, is really going to help us out this year. He was state placer in junior high and wrestlers year-round, so he is going to really fit in there nicely at 113 pounds.”
Overall, the Thunderbolts might have some gaps to fill.
“We are going to be really solid in the lower weight classes and really solid in the upper weight classes, but in the middle weights that is where we are going to have to have guys pick it up a notch so that we can compete,” Newburg added. “We always talk about the weakest link and we have to have somebody that is going to pick it up. They may not have to win every match, but they need to stay off their back and not give up any bonus points by losing by a major decision, a technical fall or pin. That’s what we are going to have to be successful at in the middle of our lineup so that we can compete with all these good teams we will be facing.”
Northmont opens the season this Saturday at home at 6 p.m. against Butler in a varsity only match that begins at 6 p.m.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind