CLAYTON — In some respects Northmont and Wayne are facing new issues with their wrestling teams, but not in the same areas.
Friday night Northmont hosted Wayne for the Thunderbolts annual Wrestling Premier with Wayne as the repeating guest team.
For the first time in years the Warriors have enough athletes to field a full varsity squad and will also have a JV team, and that hasn’t happened in a long time. However, most of Wayne’s wrestlers are inexperienced.
On the other hand Northmont has a decent core of returners, but the Thunderbolts have no wrestlers in the lower weight classes – nothing below 135 pounds. It is also the smallest team Northmont has ever fielded number wise. Wayne has plenty in the lower weight classes including three 106 pounders.
“We start this year with a solid junior class headed up by heavyweight Jacob Padilla, a returning two-time state qualifier,” said Wayne Coach Randy Bitsko. “We also have Jaden Hardrick and he is going to fill his big brother Jordan’s spot as a state qualifier hopefully. Sophomore Austin Mullins will be joining us by midseason. He is taking some time off to make sure he is good and healthy. We are looking at a full roster this year, which hasn’t happened in a long time.”
Backing up Padilla in the heavyweight class is Seth Spidell, who along with Padilla played on the Warriors varsity football team.
“We have three 106 pounders, so it is really exciting. It is a young group of kids so we are going to take our lumps early, but I think by the end of the season we should be in contention to be among the top three teams in the GWOC, I’m hoping,” Bitsko stated. “It’s nice to have a little better numbers this year so we are excited to have the opportunity for the kids to wrestle varsity and then have a JV team to go out and get work. It’s an exciting time to see the potential at the end of this year and hopefully to have that roll into next year to keep progressing.”
Wayne took its lumps Friday as Northmont won the first eight matches, six by pin.
Andrew Knick won by a fall (pin) in 41 seconds vs. Mason Lawson. Mason Sigler won by a fall in 34 seconds against Brian Shaw. James Wilson won by a fall in 30 seconds vs. Jannick Huss. Billy Mengerink won by a fall in 1:25 vs. Karam Abuhelia. Phil Tracey won a 7-6 decision against Tyler Stevens and Bryan Heyward won a 7-2 decision vs. Seth Spidell. Miles Moyer won by a fall in 1:35 vs. Ozzan Makhmudov.
Wayne picked up its first victory when Padilla won by a fall in 1:57 vs. Seth Frantz. Mason Lawson gave the Warriors back-to-back victories by scoring a 2-1 decision over Mason Sigler.
The Thunderbolts got back in the win column when Jackson Clark scored a 6-3 decision over Brendan Dunn. Brian Jones won by a fall in 49 seconds against Spidell.
Wayne’s Demetrius McFadden won by a fall in 2:37 vs. Mengerink. Noah Williams got his second win of the night with a pin in 47 seconds over Jannick Huss and in the final match Jaden Hardrick scored a 6-0 decision over Northmont’s Phil Tracey.
Despite Northmont’s 57-18 match victory the Thunderbolts are facing some issues that will force them to forfeit at least 18 points in each match.
“We only have one senior, which is the least amount I have ever had and this is also the smallest team I have ever had,” said Northmont Coach Scott Newburg. “We have 16 wrestlers. That’s it. For a Division I school that is not very many, but from what I can tell even though we are young with a few kids that have never wrestled before, this is one of the hardest working group of kids that I have ever had. We just need to get better every week and that is going to be our theme. Then we can see where we end up. It’s not as much about wins and losses that I am worried about right now, it is about each kid getting better and seeing what we can do at the end of the season. That is our goal, to get better every week. We have to forfeit two or three weight classes so we will be down 18 points probably every time we compete in a dual match, so it is going to hurt us by not having enough kids in the lower weight classes to score points.”
But the Thunderbolts have four or five kids that have wrestled for three or four years at the varsity level and Newburg is looking for them to pick it up a notch to carry the team until his younger wrestlers gain more experience.
“I am pleased with how our younger kids are wrestling,” Newburg added.
He went on to point out the paradox the team is facing this year.
“Five years ago I had no football players on the wrestling team. I had all lower weights,” he noted. “Now I have 16 kids and 13 of them played football. I have no lower weights. I have no one at 106, no one at 113, 120 or 125. It just switched completely around. I just can’t put it all together.”
Wayne’s performance was hindered by not having several key team members in action for the premier match, and Bitsko stressed that what happened on the mat Friday was not indicative of how his team will compete this year.
“I am missing a lot of my star wrestlers, some of whom are out of town, a couple due to injury here and there,” Bitsko added. “I think if I had my full lineup tonight it would have been a closer match. Northmont doesn’t have anyone under 135 pounds and I’ve got a full lightweight roster, so if we both had more personnel it would have been a lot more interesting tonight. Wrestling wise tonight, they beat us .But like I said we still have a good shot at a top three finish in the GWOC with the whole team healthy and intact. We would have liked to have seen a few more wins tonight and it was disappointing for some of the young kids, but we are moving in the right direction.”