The 2019-20 Mustang wrestling team is filled with talent and experience. The boys have also developed a hunger and a desire for bigger things to happen and have been working hard in the off-season to do what they need to do to bring those goals to reality.
Sophomore Taylor Huggins sparked the Mustangs last season with a berth in the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament. Huggins is hungry for a return trip and will be building on the 41 victories he earned a year ago as a freshman.
“He has a great career ahead of him. He was close to the school record for wins in a season, which is 43. He should produce a lot of school records in time,” said Coach Jim Nelson.
Nelson’s team is stacked with seniors hungry for success and who have been willing to work hard toward their goals. Gerald Rupe, Adrian Gomez, Caden Hill, Clayton Garmon and Kolton Stremler all return for their final season. “They have a lot of experience to share with the team and will help lead the team,” said Nelson.
Caden Hill has 80 career wins and is on pace to reach his 100th career win by January. Kolton Stremler qualified for the district tournament last year and has 31 career varsity wins. Most of those came last season. Kolton and Clayton Garmon spent the first couple years at the junior varsity level and stepped into the varsity line-up last season.
“Clayton obtained 10 varsity wins last season and is ready to triple those wins,” said Nelson. “He worked his heart out this past summer in the weight room. Gerald Rupe has 34 career wins and is on the way to get 75 career wins before the end of the year. Adrian Gomez is back to the team after having to take a year out last season and has a lot of varsity experience to bring back to the surface from his freshman and sophomore seasons.”
Returning lettermen include Jayden Ball, Dawson Townsend,
Huggins, Rupe, Marcus Elam, Gomez, Payne, Mckinley Boyd, Hill, Garmon, Stremler, and Dalton Main.
Sophomore’s Cohen Piper, Easton White, and freshman Cameron Nicoli are also looking good in preseason workouts.
Several incoming freshmen are hoping to make their mark on the team this season. They include Kade Martin, Morgan Vanhemart, Drake Hamm, Jocelyn Cox, and Alex Dunkin.
“These freshmen are a group to watch over the next few years. Morgan, Drake, Kade, Jocelyn, and Alex have all been part of kids wrestling programs growing up, and also competing through middle school years. We will have more to say about them as the season progresses, but I believe they are a tough young group that’ll hold their own,” said Nelson.
Nelson says filling out the varsity lineup is a big part of being successful in the South Central Conference race. “If we can find a way to fill in all our weight classes, I think we can bank on another winning dual season,” he said. “I never like to speak too soon, but I know we have about four or five wrestlers that want to earn a berth to the state tournament. The potential is there. But they know they’ll have to put in a lot of extra time for such an honor to materialize. The pursuit to the Iowa State Tournament is a tough task to acquire.
Nelson sees the conference race as a tough one in 2019-20. The Mustangs could finish in the middle of the standings. “Most likely, Eddyville is favored, and Centerville has three state place-winners on their team. I believe the rest of the conference teams are fairly equal, and we’ll just have to sort it out by competing, and see what the final scores come out to be,” said Nelson.
“The atmosphere in the wrestling room right now is lively and positive. The wrestlers are working hard and are motivating each other. As long as we can maintain the team concept in this sport, I believe we’ll see the individual wins soar. The team gives motivation for the individual to do his best for the team. I think this team will surprise some opponents as the year progresses,” he said.