Simpson falls to Central after close matches, intense performances

by Erin Guzman

Confidence is key when it comes time for a sport’s championship part of a season, and that’s something Storm wrestling must keep in mind.

In a rival dual at home on Saturday, Feb. 9 Simpson took a hard loss against Central College in Hopper Gym. A loud and supportive bench backed the wrestling squad, but could not make up for the gaps in scoring.

The Dutch led the dual after an early forfeit from Simpson’s 125-pound weight class, and the Storm was unable to recover. The final score was settled at 28-9 in favor of Central (10-9, 3-4 IIAC)

Although Simpson took its eighth conference loss, head coach Clint Manny observed very close matches and impressive performances from his team.

“For those who came to the meet, they saw a pretty competitive dual with several closely-contested matches,” Manny said. “I was fairly pleased with our level of intensity and competitiveness, but we can always do more to put us in a position to win those dual meets.”

This dual marked the last scheduled meet of the regular season, but brought forth promise for the road ahead to the conference tournament.

Senior 149-pounder Caleb Brus earned his final dual victory of the season (96th of his career) against Central’s Joe Atwell in a 7-6 decision. This win moved Brus into a tie in the 12th spot on Simpson’s all-time win list.

The Storm (2-13, 0-8 IIAC) also picked up wins from freshmen Derek Entz and Justin Bruce, who wrestle in the 141-pound and 174-pound spots respectively. Entz took home a 2-0 victory over his opponent, bringing the scoring deficit to 10-3 midway through the meet.

“The dual (against) Central was an intense one with many close matches that could have gone either way,” Entz said. “We tried to go out on the mat with intensity, and I think we did a good job of that.” 

Entz’s teammate Bruce put on an impressive showing against Central’s Tommy Van Renterghem, coming back from a 5-1 gap to win his match, 16-10. This decision marked a big step forward for the young wrestler after stepping up a weight class to fill holes in Simpson’s roster.

“I was once again impressed with our young freshman,” Manny said. “Justin Bruce had a huge come-from-behind win after bumping up a weight class to wrestle against one of Central’s toughest guys. That match was definitely the highlight of the match for us and I’m very proud of his efforts.”

This taste of victory has gotten Bruce and other wrestlers motivated going into the Iowa Conference tournament next week.

“Looking ahead to the conference tournament, I’m going to go 100 percent in practice for two weeks, and I plan on making it to nationals,” Bruce said. “It will be a fight at conference so we all need to help each other at practice to prepare for it.”

Entz agreed that the Storm will have to maintain focus before their next competitive showing.

“This season has been tough with many injuries on the team, but we have a good core group of guys that have kept working hard all year long,” Entz said. “With the conference tournament so close we have to stay focused these next few weeks and fine-tune the little things.”

The top three placers at each weight class automatically qualify for the Division III national tournament and three wild card qualifiers are determined by a coaches’ vote at the conclusion of the tournament.