WEBSTER CITY - Wrestling isn't just about power, but one thing is certain: It doesn't hurt.
Power can get grapplers out of trouble. And, yes, it can even intimidate.
The added muscle tone and power is apparent in the Webster City wrestling room as the Lynx get set to dive in for a double leg on the 2012-13 season tonight with a road North Central Conference dual against Hampton-Dumont. Lynx head coach Ted Larson feels the effects of the increased strength, particularly from his wrestlers in the upper weights, each night in practice.
DFJ file photo by Troy Banning
Webster City junior Dylan Fielder (top) cranks on the arm of Spirit Lake Park’s Casey Jones moments before turning him for the fall during the state duals last February in Des Moines. Fielder, ranked second in Class 3A at 182 pounds entering this season, is one of several Lynx grapplers that has added noticeable bulk in preparation for the upcoming campaign, which begins tonight on the road against Hampton-Dumont.
"Where I notice it the most is when I tie up with these guys. They've definitely gotten a lot stronger," Larson said. "Our weight program with (WCHS football) coach (Bob) Howard, there's no doubt we're making huge strides there. There's a commitment made by these kids; six days a week, starting last March, they've been doing this at 6 in the morning. They lift three days a week and then they do speed training three days a week, and that's confidence, that's strength and hopefully that will help with position."
WCHS will put a blend of rookies and veterans on the mat tonight against the Bulldogs. The junior varsity bouts will start at 6:30 p.m., with the varsity dual slated for approximately 7:15 p.m.
The two-time defending conference champion Lynx boast a pair of ranked grapplers - No. 2 (Class 3A) Dylan Fielder at 182 pounds and No. 8 Connor Larson at 170, both juniors - and two more - junior Tanner Hild (138) and senior Landon Johnson (285) - who topped 30 victories a season ago.
Webster City Lineup
106 - Andrew Straw (jr.); 113 - Freddie Seely (so.); 120 - Gage Sadler (fr.); 126 - Collin Oswald (fr.); 132 - Tanner Hoveland (so.); 138 - Tanner Hild (jr.); 145 - Jake Powers (jr.); 152 - Alex Oswald (jr.); 160 - Brandon Patten (jr.); 170 - Connor Larson (jr.); 182 - Dylan Fielder (jr.); 195 - Gus Gasca (jr.); 220 - Chris Goodrich (sr.); 285 - Landon Johnson (sr.).
Throw in a handful of other guys that saw plenty of mat time last year - sophomore Freddie Seely (113), junior Jake Powers (145), junior Brandon Patten (160), junior Gus Gasca (195) and senior Chris Goodrich (220) - and it's easy to see why expectations are so high. But Ted Larson cautions that Hampton-Dumont cannot, and will not, be overlooked.
"We've banged on each other long enough and it's time to get out there, underneath the lights, and get back into competition," he said. "But we can't take anybody lightly, and we're definitely not going to take Hampton lightly. They've got some good kids back, so we've got to be out there to compete in every single match."
WCHS will welcome several newcomers to the lineup in freshmen Gage Sadler (120) and Collin Oswald (126), as well as sophomore Tanner Hoveland (132).
Junior Andrew Straw (106) bounced in and out of the lineup during his first two prep campaigns, but he's expected to be a stalwart at the lightest weight this season. Junior Alex Oswald (152) will fill the remaining slot in the lineup.
"For the new guys, this is a different level," Ted Larson said. 'They've prepared in this (practice) room, but it's different when you get out there and start competing. So we just need them to concentrate on what's going on inside that 30-foot circle."
Tonight's feature match is expected to be at 170, where Connor Larson will tangle with the Bulldogs' 10th-ranked (2A) Josh Bauer, a senior.
"That will be a pretty good match, I think," Ted Larson said.
But the Lynx coach gives no credence to the preseason rankings, which were released by The Predicament earlier this week.
"It's nice for the kids to get notoriety, but they don't hold a grain of salt because a ranking won't win a match for you or lose a match for you," Ted Larson said. "The only opinions that matter are those of the 43 guys we've got inside this room."
Following tonight's dual, the Lynx will begin to focus on Saturday's Dallas Center-Grimes Invitational - a tournament they won a season ago. But the challenge will be more difficult this year, as fourth-ranked (2A) Creston/Orient-Macksburg joins the 12-team field.
Creston/O-M features senior top-ranked 138-pounder Jake Marlin, who will attempt to become a four-time state champion in February. Marlin's second title in 2011 came at the expense of the Lynx all-time wins leader and current UNI Panther, Tyler Patten.