WARSAW WRESTLING: IMPROVING TIGERS DROP NLC OPENER
StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Wednesday, November 29, 2017
ELKHART – All any coach can ask of his athletes is for improvement as the season progresses.
Warsaw wrestling coach Kris Hueber is definitely getting that from his youthful squad.
The Tigers showcased their improved skill set versus host Elkhart Memorial in their first dual match of the season Tuesday night.
Warsaw, which led late, fell to the Crimson Chargers 45-36 in the Northern Lakes Conference opener for both teams.
Hueber, despite the loss, sees his team headed in the right direction.
“From where we were at two weeks ago (in the season opener) to tonight there has been significant improvement,” said Hueber, now in his second season. “I thought that our guys stepped up to the challenge pretty well tonight.
“Memorial has a lot of tough kids who came out aggressive. They were on fire early and really swinging for the fences. I thought that our guys held their composure pretty well and matched their level of intensity tonight.”
“We did not get the final outcome that we wanted. but to be right there at the end against a tough Memorial team tonight is encouraging.”
The Tigers, who have just three seniors among the 27 grapplers listed on their roster, led 36-33 late in the match. Memorial, who was wrestling for the first time since opening its season on Nov. 18, got pins by Bryton Goering and Kamden Goering in the final two matches of the evening at 145 and 152 to earn the tough league win.
Warsaw got strong efforts from the trio of Brock Hueber, Dillon Estepp and Fernando Niebbia to lead the way.
Sophomore Hueber picked up a win by fall in 4:52 at 195 over junior James Goldsborough. Hueber, who went 3-2 on Saturday in the Wawasee Invitational, controlled the match and led 9-2 entering the final period before pinning his opponent.
“Brock did a really good job tonight,” noted Hueber. “He handled the emotions of the match well.”
Estepp, one of the team’s seniors, pinned junior Cameron Lightner in 3:30 at 285. Ester led 8-1 at the time before winning his match by fall.
“Dillon was composed and found a way to finish,” said Hueber.
Niebbia, a sophomore, won his first varsity match. He defeated freshman Joey Cole by a disqualification at 120. Niebbia led late in the match before Cole was disqualified.
“Fernando showed great resolve in his match,” Hueber remarked. “He scrapped and forced the action for his first-ever varsity win. He’s one of our kids who has a month of mat time in his life.”
The Tigers also got wins by forfeit from sophomore Isaiah Owens (106), freshman Jose Martinez (113) and Gavin Truex (220).
Hueber, who is investing a lot of time and effort in his program at the younger levels, has 19 freshmen or sophomores listed on his roster.
“We have a lot of young guys who have been thrown into our varsity lineup this year,” said Huebe. “They have shown a willingness to compete. What we have in our room right now is a very coachable group that wants to be pushed. We are seeing positives from them.”
Memorial, which finished 6-12 overall and 2-5 in the NLC last year, came out strong as Koby Lundy and Clayton Lundy started the match with wins by pins over Josh West and Andrew Owens at 160 and 170 respectively. Senior Koby won in 35 seconds and freshman Clayton in 23 to get the hosts going quickly in the league clash.
The Chargers also got wins from senior Jorge Palomino (182), senior Christian Mejia (132) and sophomore Chance Shank (138). Palomino topped junior Grayson Drudge 10-4, while Mejia won by fall over sophomore Chris McAfoose in 46 seconds and Shank pinned sophomore Brock Hogenson in 1:59. Mejia placed fifth at the State Finals at 120 last season.
Freshman Graham Eli also won for Memorial by a forfeit at 126.
Warsaw, which only has three home meets all season, is now 2-9 overall on the season. The Tiger varsity will compete Saturday in the Valparaiso Duals. The JV members of the team will be in action Saturday at the Concord JV Invitational.
Memorial returns to action with an NLC match at Concord Thursday night.