—by Todd Thorson
The Roland-Story wrestling team turned in a great performance Saturday (Dec. 7) at the Dennis Field Invitational at Woodward-Granger, claiming the team championship for the second consecutive year. Four Norsemen earned titles, including Zach Anderson (106), Parker Witthuhn (126), Ryan Hadaway (182) and Danny Dankel (285). All four of them went 2-0 in their bracket matches, on their way to the respective individual titles. Witthuhn, Dankel and Hadaway pinned their way to the top.
"Zach (Anderson) was (also) impressive in his own right," said Coach Leland Schwartz, "showing resilience and heart by winning his first match in overtime and winning his first ever varsity tournament as a freshman."
The Norsemen won the team title by a whopping 37 points, 162-125, over runner up SE Warren. Host Woodward-Granger was third at 109 points.
Coming in second for the Norsemen were Tanner Stille (220), Calvin Bright (170) and Will Clark (138). Bright, incidentally, stepped into the varsity lineup for his first tournament and posted two pins en route to his second place finish.
"It’s not easy to be a freshman at an upper weight class, and be eager to compete," said Schwartz of Bright’s accomplishment.
Coming in with third place finishes for R-S were Tyson Manzer (120), Treyton Witthuhn (132), Bill Joslin (145), Colton Osmundson (152) and Noah Bartmess (160). And Kameron Turnbull (113) managed a fourth place finish.
The R-S J.V. wrestlers also performed well, with Will Halstead, Brandon Greenhaw and Alex Abernathy posting first place finishes. Alec Smith and Charlie Fournier both came in second. The J.V., as a team, compiled an 11-3 record on the day.
Rounding out the rest of the varsity team field were East Union (74), Colfax-Mingo (71), SE Webster-Grand (32), West Central Valley (27) and Martensdale-St. Mary’s (21).
"I was extremely pleased with our overall effort at the tournament," concluded Coach Schwartz, "and it got better as the day progressed. Both the J.V. and varsity wrestlers still have work to do, but this was a good start to the season."
The Roland-Story wrestlers, under the tutelage of Coach Leland Schwartz, finished third last year in the Heart of Iowa Conference, and expectations are high again this season to finish near the top. Greene County is the defending HOIAC champion and looks like the team to beat again this year.
Returning letter winners for the Norsemen are seniors Noah Bartmess, Jose Cruz, Danny Dankel and Jesus Dominguez, juniors Ryan Hadaway, Colton Osmundson and Parker Witthuhn, and sophomores Alex Abernathy, Will Clark, Tyson Manzer, Sam Mathis, Tanner Stille and Treyton Witthuhn.
"We had three state qualifiers last season, with senior Jose Cruz (36-8) and junior Parker Witthuhn (34-7) back to try again," said Schwartz. "Unfortunately, our third qualifier, sophomore Sam Mathis (25-17), had to have surgery on his hand recently, and it looks like he will miss the entire season. Tyson Manzer (30-14) was also a district qualifier last season and was a 30-match winner."
The Norsemen’s first home meet is next Thursday, Dec. 19, followed by the Norsemen J.V. Tournament on Friday, Dec. 20 and the annual Jim Kinyon Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 21.
Coach Schwartz also encourages fans to come out and support the R-S wrestlers this year, as they will be having various promotional activities at each home meet throughout the season. There will be give-aways including t-shirts, other apparel, signed posters and more.
"We also want to encourage the students to attend (as well)," Schwartz stated, "so any student who comes to our meets wearing Norsemen attire will be given free chances to win some of the give-aways. Even if you’ve never been to a wrestling meet, come support the Norsemen and see that the hard work and time spent by our wrestlers is paying off."
Something new Coach Schwartz is excited about this year is a collectible card promotion, featuring some of the great Roland-Story wrestlers from the past.
"We’ve had many wrestlers come through our school who accomplished great things," commented Schwartz, "so this is a way to honor our history."
Two different cards will be released at each home meet, so those fans who want to collect the entire set will need to attend all of the meets in order to collect them all. Roland-Story’s first two former wrestlers to be featured will be Scott Dunn and Jon Wing on December 19.