After the Whistle: New Salem-Almont trio aim for back-to-back individual titles, first as a team

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Not one, not two, but three – that’s the number of state champions New Salem-Almont has in its wrestling room, all competing for a chance to return to the podium once again.

“I definitely have a goal on my back because I’m on top now and everyone’s coming for it, but it’s going to be as tough as last year, tough competition,” Wyatt Engwicht said.

Wyatt Enwicht is last season’s 106-pound state champion. A guy who jumped two weight classes to compete at 120 this year.

“It’s not too bad,” Engwicht explained. “I’m doing pretty well. It’s the height difference that’s the only thing – everyone’s a little taller than me. At 106, everyone was taller, but not as tall.

Size hasn’t made too much of a difference to Engwicht, he has a perfect 21-0 record on the year, and one thing that helps him struggle in a room with other champions.

“It’s awesome,” Engwicht said. “My team is definitely the reason why I am the way I am. Without them I couldn’t be where I am today, that’s for sure, everyone in there.

Engwicht frequently faces teammate and two-time state champion Cole Gerhardt. He’s a guy who’s only a junior, but already dreams of going four-for-four on titles in his high school career, just like his brother Clay.

“Well, it won’t be easy,” junior Cole Gerhardt said. “None of the years is easy. It will be a challenge anyway, so we just have to keep working hard and trying to achieve our goals as a team and individually.

Gerhardt has state titles in the 106 and 113 classes. This year he makes the jump to 126 where he found himself at the top winning 29 of his 33 games.

AJ Heins is the third Holstein State Champion. He is the only one who has not changed weight classes, dominating at 285 with a 21-2 record.

“I mean it’s as hard as wanting the first one,” Heins said. “You have to want it the same way you want the first.”

There’s a fourth guy in the room who has witnessed the success of all his teammates, a factor that has led him to a 14-1 record this season.

“I love being with these guys, if not better,” said junior Ty Wolding. “I never want to be the least hard worker in the room. I always want to be the hardest worker and push myself the most.

Ty Wolding says his second-place finish at last year’s state just isn’t good enough, and it’s become a chip on his shoulder to reach the next step on the podium.

“Mentally wise realizing it’s not the end of the world if something bad happens,” Wolding said. “You can really open up more if you’re not so worried about everything. If you’re stress-free, you’ll struggle a lot better.

Wrestling best starts in the same place for all Holstein wrestlers, downstairs.

“Our mindset has to be that it’s a free run when we lose,” head coach Dave Wolding said. “We are definitely working to improve, and we are improving. As we continue to make progress on things like this, I think we’re definitely going to be a contender at the end of the year.

Wrestling is the hope, but a state title is the dream, and it won’t be easy, especially for a team filling the void of three injured wrestlers, with whom head coach Dave Wolding says he never had to face in his eight seasons. at the bar.

“We’ve had guys who have stood up, and they go out on the weekends and they just struggled and scored when they can score,” Dave Wolding said. “That’s what it will take. Everyone’s going to have to understand a little bit, and so far everyone has.

The Holsteins have finished in the top three four times in the past eight years, but this group believes they can be the ones to do something that hasn’t been done in the program’s 51-year history.

“We’ve never had a tag team title here in New Salem before, and we’ve had coaches here who have worked for how many years? And been in this room for how many nights working for this? So I think that it’s the biggest goal for all of us, and me, to win this tag team title,” said Gerhardt.

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