In his preseason outlook, Newton wrestling coach Jude Wilson said his primary goal was to be competitive in league and improve on the Railers’ tournament team and individual placings. They were fourth in league and 10th at state a year ago.
He might have to adjust those goals a bit.
Newton has captured three consecutive tournaments and looks to add a fourth at home beginning Friday. Even though the first three tourneys — at Douglass, Bishop Carroll and last Saturday at Augusta — featured tough fields, Wilson said the competition will be ramped up for their Tournament of Champions.
Among the teams scheduled to compete are the City League’s Heights, Carroll and Northwest. The field also includes Garden City, Dodge City, Manhattan, Tulsa Union from Oklahoma and a handful of schools from northeast Kansas.
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“That will really let us know where we’re at this year,” Wilson said. “You’re going to see a lot of top teams.”
He said things have come together this year through hard work. The Railers stand atop the latest Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association Class 5A rankings and carry a 6-0 dual-meet record.
“We’ve just got a bunch of tough kids that love to do this stuff, and they’re out here having fun with it. These kids come in and work hard every day, and it’s starting to pay off, and we like to see that.”
Although Wilson is reluctant to single out individuals, senior Miles Johns (145) and junior Dillon Archer (195) are top-ranked in the state in their classes. Johns was first at all three tournaments, and Archer won at Douglass and was runner-up at Augusta.
Also making a splash are juniors Quinton Harrison at 120 pounds and Anthony Monares at 132. Harrison won his class at all three tournaments, and Monares won two of three. Each is third in his class at state. Junior Garrett McEachern and senior Hugh McConnell are fourth in the state at 138 and 182, respectively.
Blast from the past — Before last Thursday’s dual meet with Carroll, saluted the wrestlers who have competed in the program that is in its 81st year.
Current coach Jake Johnston said this is the second tribute, the first coming in 2009-10, his first year at North. An estimated 49 alums attended and were recognized before the dual.
Although Johnston organized the first reunion, he credited former Redskin wrestler and coach John Lent and a group of alumni with putting the event together.
Some former North wrestlers have become wrestling coaches and attended, including South’s Mike Atlee and Kapaun Mount Carmel’s Tim Dryden and Augusta Middle School’s Jason Storm. Another who attended was Eldon Edwards, Derby High’s cross country coach.
The elder statesman is Jim Aronis, Class of 1947, who said he enjoyed being a part of the event.
“It kind of lets everybody remember that wrestling is also a sport,” said Aronis, a retired bank vice president. “In the past, wrestling was kind of the one no one thought about.”
Tonight’s action — The City League’s two remaining unbeaten teams will put their 3-0 marks on the line as Bishop Carroll wrestles at Kapaun and Northwest is at Southeast, where coach Eric Prichard will be going for his 100th victory. South will try to improve to 3-2 at North as well. All meets begin at 7.