Host team battles for 9th-place finish
Buoyed by the efforts of a great supporting cast, Shawnee Mission Northwest wrestling coach Howard Newcomb declared Saturday's Cougar Invitational a rousing success.
"The tournament was run as fast as any tournament could run with 12 teams," Newcomb said. "Including trophy presentations we were out of there by 6:30 p.m. I have to credit an outstanding job by the custodians, booster club, alumni and administration. We wouldn't have had a very good tournament if it wasn't for them."
The Cougar Invitational was a 12-team affair that began early Saturday morning with teams coming from as far as Derby and Wichita to compete. It was the third consecutive year of the event.
Four Cougars finished in the top four in their weight classes on Saturday, helping the Cougars to a ninth-place finish. Sophomore Glenn Schongar, the team's 103-pounder, took third in his division, running his season record to 7-2. Senior Dave Guerin (119) also claimed third while moving to 6-4 on the year. Fellow senior Matt Lange (171) took an impressive second place in his division while improving to 8-1 on the year, and senior Michael Eckard claimed third in the 215-pound weight class, moving to 7-3.
The performance was an improvement from earlier in the week when the Cougars struggled during a dual with Olathe East and Shawnee Mission South. During that meet only Lange and Eckard were able to distinguish themselves with wins. Newcomb knows that, although his team is replete with seniors, many of them lack varsity experience and are going to have to learn on the fly this year.
"We have a lot of seniors," Newcomb said, "but only one or two had varsity time. The guys wrestled well and competed and were in every match. We just have some little things to work on."
On Dec. 2, the Cougars kicked things off in grand fashion at the season-opening East Kansas Duals.
Lange (171) and Jordan Swoyer (140) went 4-0 in their weight classes, while Schongar went 3-0 at 103 pounds. Eckard (215) and Guerin (119) added 3-1 marks on the day.
Newcomb credited the solid showing to his team's "take-no-prisoners" mindset.
"It was the way that they just commanded the mat," Newcomb said. "They dominated the mat. The movement, the aggressiveness was everything you wanted to see. Technique-wise we were pretty good, but there's always room for improvement."