SMNW individuals fair well at league
The Shawnee Mission Northwest wrestling team made some huge strides at last weekend's Sunflower League Wrestling Meet at Olathe Northwest, placing three wrestlers and seeing others pull upsets of foes they had fallen to earlier in the season.
"We had some good matches," said Cougar head coach Howard Newcomb in reviewing his team's performance. "Some kids wrestled really well. There were some ups and downs. The ups were definitely the kids who beat opponents who had beaten them previously in the year. It shows that they are improving and it gets them ready for when they see some of those same guys at regionals next week."
Senior heavyweight Justin Pessetto led the way for the Cougars as he climbed all the way to the championship match in his division before falling -- but still taking home the second-place hardware. Senior Adrian Carmichael took sixth in the 152-pound class, upsetting the tourney's fourth- and fifth-seeded wrestlers in his division on his way to the medal. Senior 160-pounder James Ralstin continued his solid season, taking fifth in the 160-pound class.
Among those who didn't place but still wrestled admirably, Newcomb singled out junior Travis Knoll, who, at 130 pounds, defeated an opponent who had beaten him just one week earlier.
"We've got some young kids who just keep getting better each week," said Newcomb, who also sang the praises of sophomore Joe Young (112) and junior Dave Guerin (119) as grapplers who have shown steady improvement.
Newcomb also pointed to two other juniors who look to make an impact both next week and in the future of Cougar wrestling.
"Matt Lang, our 171-pounder," Newcomb said, "We're looking forward to having him back next year. He's had James Ralstin ahead of him all year at 160 so he's had to wrestle up. If he's around the same weight next year he'll really enjoy wrestling those 160-pounders."
Newcomb also noted that the team is anxious for the return of Jordan Swoyer, the Cougars' 140-pounder, who missed the league meet with a foot injury.
"We're looking forward to having him back next week," said Newcomb, who also dealt with health issues of his own this week as a 102-degree temperature forced him to miss the last afternoon of wrestling at the league meet.
For this week, regionals week, Newcomb has one luxury: he doesn't have to travel. Northwest will host this weekend's regional meet, which means the Cougars get the comforts of their own beds and home-cooked meals. For his part, Newcomb plans to keep practices running like clockwork -- in more ways than one.
"We're drilling this week," Newcomb said on Sunday night. "We're doing technique work and making sure they understand clock work. How to use the clock. We're emphasizing that they've got to score points to win. Most of all, we don't want them to get flustered by the name "Regionals." We'll try to keep them relaxed and focused on what they have to do to score a point."
Wrestling events for regionals begin in the Northwest gym at 8 a.m. on Saturday.