By Jack Schafer, Staff Writer
Newman wrestling is starting the postseason soon, and they say they are approaching it as a blank slate.
“We’re zero and zero and its postseason. Our goal this season has been CEO,” which stands for check em’ off," sophomore heavyweight wrestler Thor Balavage said.
Balavage said the reason for this was so that the wrestlers could have a checklist of goals during the season to accomplish.
“We brought our checklists to practice and threw them away. The past doesn’t matter when we step on the mats with these kids,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether we won or lost in the past. We have to win now to move on.”
Balavage said despite some injuries on the team, he is optimistic about the coming season.
“The team is looking good and strong. This part of the year everyone is a bit beat up though,” he said.
With injured or tired starters, Balavage said, wrestlers who usually wouldn’t get to see much time in practice have received more opportunities and stepped up to the challenge.
“Some starters have been able to rest throughout the past couple weeks. Our practices have been pretty intense and we have had lots of non-starters step up into the lineup to alleviate some wear and tear on the bodies of the starters,” Balavage said.
The team effort has shown especially in comparison to last year, he said.
“As a whole, I would say we’re tighter this year than last year, at least with my experience of the past two years. There is just a lot more camaraderie,” Balavage said. “This year has been good because kids aren’t flaking out on their partners and they are staying strong.”
Staying strong is much needed at the moment with the team’s All American, Dalton Weidl, out for the rest of the year due to an ACL injury.
Balavage said not only is he losing a practice partner, but the entire team is losing a leader.
“Losing a senior is hard, especially a ranked senior who has been a ball of fire all season long,” he said.
As physically demanding as wrestling is, Balavage said, Wiedl always helps his teammates with making the best out of every situation. Whether it’s a tough practice or duel, he seems to be a massive positive influence to the team, he said.
“He is a spark in the room, usually a smiling face…Losing his energy definitely hurts. Points and such, especially,” he said.
The team isn’t focusing on the negative of losing Dalton, but staying focused on what they need to get done to succeed.
“Basically it’s just wrestling and continuing to wrestle with injuries. We just need to win and advance,” Balavage said.
The wrestlers will hit the mats to compete in the regional tournament Feb. 23-24. The top four of that tournament will go to nationals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.