Line-up Depth to be Key in Grapplers’ Success

Line-up Depth to be Key in Grapplers Success

by Amy Johnson

Drive and determination leads Storm’s wrestling program this year to keep up with its national leader status while vying for a place at the top of Division III’s toughest league, the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“Watch out for Simpson wrestling,” sophomore Jeff Sand said. “We are here to make a statement and begin our rise back to the top of the IIAC.”

The team has high hopes for the season, returning many key wrestlers and gaining some recruits who are fighting to fill the slots left by last year’s seniors. With a conference like the IIAC, team unity is key.

“Overall the conference will be tough as it always is,” said senior co-captain Caleb Brus. “It’s the toughest conference in the nation, so we really need to work hard to be toward the top.”

Wartburg will make a run once again for the national title along with Coe College, ranked 4th in the nation. Cornell, Dubuque and Luther all hold strong to their rankings in the Top 15 while Buena Vista sits in the rankings at 23rd.

Head coach Clint Manny understands the difficulty at hand but knows where his team sits strength-wise.

“The major strengths of the team is the middle of our lineup,” Manny said. “We’ve got a tremendous amount of depth from 133 pounds -184 pounds. We brought a lot of good, young talent that will help add a lot of depth to the major part of our lineup.”

The men of the wrestling team know what is ahead of them. The stakes are high, but their team goals are higher.

“(Our team goals are to) place top five in the IIAC,” Sand said. “Beat Central, a long time rival and Williams College, a cross country rival. (We also want) 100 percent retention of our wrestlers. We have had problems with people quitting over the years…so we want to make sure everyone stays.”

Manny believes the team unity and group leaders will help the team excel.

“Our team leaders will definitely be our three seniors,” Manny said. “Caleb Brus, Calvin Barber and Jordy Ammons have done a good job thus far by stepping up and being leaders to our large group of first-year wrestlers. We will be looking to these guys to not only lead the team in practice, but also out on the mat during our dual meets and tournaments.”

When looking back on last year’s accomplishments and weak spots, Manny has addressed the issues and knows what needs to be done.

“We hope to improve in every category this year from last year,” Manny said. “Obviously we are always looking to improve on the previous year, but we would really like to improve in the areas of dual wins and competing within the Iowa Conference.”

The Storm wrestlers hope to start the season off with a bang on Nov. 6 with the Loras Open in Dubuque. Simpson fans will have to wait to see the men on the mats at home with its first meet being the Luther/Williams dual, set to kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3.