Experience returns, but not depth for Northwest wrestling squad
There won’t be a lot of in-betweens for the 2011-12 Shawnee Mission Northwest wrestling team.
The Cougars return quite a bit of experience at the top of each weight division, but after that the experience dwindles and those who hope to back up those first-line wrestlers are currently short on quality wrestling experience. The first week of tryouts and practices made that point abundantly clear to SMNW coach Howard Newcomb.
“We had a pretty good first week and a good group of kids who want to work hard,” Newcomb said. “We have a big group of young kids who are very excited about getting their first wrestling experience, so that’s encouraging, but we’re going to have a little lack of depth. We lost a lot of seniors who were pretty consistent scorers. It’s not like this year’s guys are totally inexperienced, we just don’t have as much depth behind our number ones.”
The Cougars lost a hefty dose of scoring with the graduation of three-time state placer Ross Whitmore at 125 pounds, as well as state qualifiers Matt Vanausdall (119), Jordan Masingale (171), Blake Covington (189) and 2011 state runner-up Mark Sample (215).
But the cupboard was far from left bare. Returning for the 2011-12 campaign are a group of state qualifiers in senior Colby Everett (140), junior Colton Almos (130), junior Reed Bowker (127), junior Blake Gordon (106), and sophomore Mario Galvan (189). In addition, former varsity wrestlers sophomore Dallas Ernsdorff (152) and senior Jacob Heindel (285) return after missing most of last season due to injury.
Other returnees who saw significant time in the junior varsity ranks last season include seniors Esdras Cisneros (127) and Devin Kaberline (220), juniors Jorge Amunatigui (138), Jerad Carson (220), and Kyle Zarda (145), and sophomores Dondi Jones (106) and Josh Keegan (138).
Newcomb also has his eye on four freshman wrestlers who have a chance to make an impact — Emillio Amunatigui, Zack Newcomb, Adam Schnacker, and Adam Vanausdall.
“We have six or seven freshmen who are veterans of our Cougar Kids Wrestling Club program,” Newcomb said. “Three have a legitimate shot at making varsity, possibly even four. We will give those younger kids a chance to get some varsity mat time throughout the year. The kids program here at Northwest keeps sending us freshmen that have the potential to make the varsity lineup, or at least push the ones who are here to get better if they want to stay in front of them.”
Though Newcomb will know much more about the potential of his program after that first few tournaments, he still has high hopes for his squad after seeing their work ethic in the early days of the season.
“The way these guys work, they bring their lunch pails every day,” Newcomb said. “With their work ethic, I can see us being in the top five of the Sunflower League and in the top three at regionals. We just need to keep the injury bug and the flu bug away. If our number ones go down, there’s not a lot of experience at number two.”