Wrestling in national rankings at the beginning of its season

By Katie Sullivan, Staff Writer

Newman wrestling is now just over a month into its season and has competed in three tournaments. In these outings, a few standout Jets have started to shine through.

“The season is going well so far,” Head Coach Ryan Smith said. “We have two guys in the national rankings and several guys in the top six of our region. We are currently ranked the No. 18 team in the country in the latest polls.”

Junior Tyler Lawley has placed in the top five in his weight class in each tournament thus far. Lawley took third place in the 133 weight class in his first outing of the season on Nov. 9 at the Maryville Kaufman/Brandy/Bayly Open. He then took first place at Swede Open on Nov. 16, and most recently, Lawly placed fourth at the Lindenwood Open on Nov. 23.

Sophomore Baylor Smith has seen two top six finishes in the season. At the Swede Open, Smith finished fourth in his weight class, and he finished in sixth at the Lindenwood Open, even though this tournament had a six match limit, which hindered his ability to complete the rest of the day.

Freshman Parker Avendano, redshirt freshman JD Johnson, junior Noah Perkins, junior Nate Panagakis and redshirt sophomore Vincent Eremita have all seen top five finishes in the first three outings of the season.

The team is doing well both on and off the mat this season, senior Thor Balavage said.

“Our team is getting along well,” Balavage said. “The guys go into the practice room as friends and come out as friends.”

Although friendship may not seem to be a major part of a sport that is an individualized activity, it does play a major role in training for the team, Balavage said.

“This sport relies heavily on good teammates and coaches,” he said. “[We have a] good group of guys with great attitudes and effort.”

The team may be getting along well, but it still experiences challenges that all teams face. One that is affecting the Jets is nagging injuries. One of the team’s goals is to get healthy, so they can take on the rest of the season, Smith said.

“There are always challenges,” Smith said. “Our staff prepares these guys on a daily basis to handle adversity and do whatever we need to make sure their needs are met both on and off the mat.”

Regardless of the challenges the team is facing, the Jets still have their sights set on success, said redshirt sophomore Kameron Frame.

“I want nothing more than to win our conference and a national team title,” Frame said. “The coaches have us all on the right track to achieve those goals. I look forward to seeing the outcome from this season.”

The wrestlers will hit the mat once again on Saturday at the Bob Smith Open at Fort Hays State University. This is one of two outings for starters before winter break arrives. There will be one tournament for non-starters Dec. 14 in Pratt.

Jets wrestling coach and alum Noel Torres will also be competing this weekend at the Mexico trials in an effort to make the Mexico National Team and start his 2020 Olympic Journey.

Your next chance to support the Jets at home won’t come until Jan. 19 when Newman hosts the Jet Invitational at Fugate Gymnasium.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics.