By Emily Larkin, Managing and Online Editor
The Newman wrestling team, which is ranked 24th in the Division II section of the NCAA, finished the University of Nebraska at Kearney Holiday Inn Open before Thanksgiving break with five placers and is looking toward its final meets of the semester.
The meet, which was held on Nov. 17, hosted around 500 wrestlers from across the country.
Sophomores Nate Panagakis and Noah Perkins placed fourth and sixth, respectively.
Nate Panagakis upset top seed Blake Castillo from Concordia Nebraska with a 2-0 decision win to open up the tournament. After several wins, Panagakis ended his tournament with a 12-6 decision against Gage McBride from Barton Community College.
Noah Perkins finished the tournament 6-2 after reaching his match limit for the day.
Perkins said this meet was a “very big and tough tournament and all of our guys went out there and fought hard, and we brought home some placers.”
Runner-ups for the amatuer weight class include sophomore Tyler Lawley, unattached freshman JD Johnson and redshirt-sophomore Jacob Stoneberger.
Lawley finished the tournament with a 4-1 record after falling to Gage Gomez from Barton Community College in 1:04.
Head coach Ryan Smith said that Lawley has been a great asset to a team that has seen a wide array of success and is looking for more.
“Tyler Lawley has been wrestling well at 133. He’s been in the championship finals in two tournaments. He’s taken third in one. We’ve had numerous guys that have placed,” he said. “The contribution has been the best I have ever seen it as a team combined, and it’s going to take a team effort to finish where we want to finish at the end of the year.”
Johnson proceeded to the title with a win from injury in 5:40 over unattached Micah Miller from Ottawa University. He then dropped the title round through a 15-3 fall to unattached University of Wyoming’s Cole Moody.
Despite Stoneberger’s previous wins in the day, he lost a two period sudden victory 4-2 decision to Cole Forrester of Air Force Academy in the title round.
Stoneberger said that the showing at this last meet was predictive of the rest of the season.
“The last meet was the biggest meet of the year so far,” he said. “We saw a lot of new competition and we have more guys stepping into the mat each week.”
Lawley says he will be focusing on pushing himself to his limits these next few meets to match his previous success.
“My biggest goals going into the second part of the season is just to stay on track with my training, both physically and mentally,” he said. “If the team keeps competing the way we do in the room, I believe we are gonna have a special year.”
Smith said the team is improving everyday through the work they are putting in.
“I think the most important thing is that everyone who steps foot on the mat gets better everyday. They’re gaining more confidence. They’re buying into what we’re doing. At the end of the day, it’s letting it fly and not holding anything back,” he said.“Regardless, did they win or lose, did they go out to battle? It’s getting their minds where they need to be so they can be there next time.”
The Jets will hit the mat again at the Bob Smith Open at 9 a.m. on Sunday in Hays.
PHOTO: NEWMAN WRESTLING had five team members place runner-up or above in its last tournament. Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics