Wrestling team optimistic about end of season

by Gabe GilsonStaff Writer

As a whole, Simpson wrestling has been somewhat of an ill-fortuned season for coach Clint Manny and the rest of the Storm squad. This, however, has not stopped the success of all wrestlers.

They have participated in over a dozen tournaments and competitions. This year the Storm traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. over the holiday break to participate in the Citrus Invitational.

The team finished in sixth place out of 11 teams that made the trip.

The team has battled illness and injury all season. At one point in the year, only six of the 15 wrestlers were able to practice. This has been the frustrating part to handle for junior Calvin Barber.

“It’s really hard to get any motivation going with six,” Barber said. “It becomes an individual sport because there aren’t as many people to practice with. The coaches helped out in practice a lot with wrestling against us.”

Calvin’s twin brother Curtis Barber has been one of the sidelined Storm wrestlers as he suffered a knee injury early in the season. Calvin Barber, who is 18-10 on the season, is happy to be wrestling after having missed many matches last year.

“I started off real strong then I lost a lot of close matches,” Calvin Barber said. “As a whole I’m doing pretty good. I’ve placed a lot more and I’m real thankful to be making weight and just being able to wrestle.”

Even with the team as a whole having their struggles, Manny has been aware of a handful of standout wrestlers.

Along with Calvin Barber, the list of standouts includes sophomore Jordy Ammons, sophomore Caleb Brus and senior Ben Hektoen.

“Ben Hektoen has won 12 out of the last 13 matches since the Citrus Duals in Florida,” Manny said.

Brus has been so impressive on the mat this season that he went on to be named a Simpson College athlete of the Month for December. Even though Brus has posted an impressive record up to this point, he still feels as though he could be doing better.

“I’m kind of in between,” Brus said. “I’ve seen some success, then there are tournaments where I don’t do so well. It feels like a pretty average performance so far.”

Brus has gone 21-13 on the season and has done well enough to be thinking about qualifying to wrestle at nationals in March, which only a few other Storm wrestlers are even thinking about.

“I think I have a good chance of making it there,” Brus said. “I’ll probably be the fourth or fifth seed at conference and could work my way up to the third seed, so it’s a very realistic possibility.”

Barber also hopes to slip into the top three at the Iowa Conference meet.

“I really don’t care what I’m seeded,” Barber said. “If I wrestle hard and prepare myself the best I can, it should pan out. It’s going to be a dog fight.”

The NCAA Championships, which are being held in Cedar Rapids at Coe College March 6-7, take the top three wrestlers from each conference.

The IIAC Conference Championships will be held in Decorah at Luther College on Feb. 17. Until that meet, the Storm will be wrestling twice at home on Jan. 29 against Loras College and on Feb. 11 against Central College. Both meets will start at 7 p.m.