MASON CITY — Watching Newman Catholic over the first few weeks of the season, fans saw a noticeable absence in the lineup. Missing was Ben Jacobs, a state qualifier a year ago as a sophomore.
“I missed weight the first week for fat test so I couldn’t wrestle, and I was sick last week so that was tough,” Jacobs said.
But in a home triangular on Thursday — Newman’s last home meet of the season — Jacobs made his grand return to the mat, and it went better than expected.
The junior, competing at 145 temporarily while he works his weight down, earned a hard-fought 11-8 decision over West Hancock’s Bryer Subject, and capped off the night with a pin in 1 minute, 3 seconds vs. Rockford’s Gavin Reicks. The pair of victories helped Newman finish 2-0 on the night with wins over the Eagles (42-36) and the Warriors (66-6).
“It was tough to get used to,” Jacobs said of his first time out, “but once I adjusted, it felt a lot better second match, getting out there and feeling it out.”
Jacobs rolled his way through last year’s sectional and district tournaments on the way to his first state tournament appearance. He has high goals for himself once again this year as a podium finish is in his sights.
Before he can get to that point, he has some work to do with a late start to the season.
“We didn’t even talk to him about his first time out because he’s cutting weight and that’s hard for some kids,” Newman coach Mark Bertsch said. “Everybody that wrestles knows sometimes when you certify in that first weight, you don’t wrestle well that night because it’s hard on you.
“We saw a good two or three days in a row of practice, and for him to come out and wrestle like that, I was real happy for him because I think he feels better about himself.”
It wasn’t exactly the best wrestling night in Thursday’s triangular as the three teams combined for 21 forfeits. But what Newman did in the matches it did wrestle was fight.
Cael Wollner, Cade Hansen, Fabian Brandenburg, George Schmit, Ben Jacobs, Kam Black and Chase McCleish each finished the night 2-0 for the Knights. Most notably for them, though, was avenging a loss to West Hancock last week.
“I liked the fact that they understood the last time we wrestled West Hancock it could’ve gone either way, and then they understood what they needed to do tonight,” Bertsch said. “We practiced really hard the last week … and got a little bit more technique. We’re not a strong dual team, but I think now they know they have a chance to get themselves up to a .500 record, and to me, that’s huge for this group.”
West Hancock, on the other hand, was not overly thrilled with its performance.
The Eagles saw Nathan Cabrera, Tate Hagen, Tanner Hagen, Hunter Hagen and Chandler Redenius each finish 2-0, but coach Mark Sanger was still left wanting more, saying the Eagles “got worse” Thursday night.
“We’ll be in there tomorrow morning working on it and we’ve got to figure out what it is to make them tick and to get them to fight,” Sanger said.
Trevor Johnson was the lone Rockford wrestler to pick up a pair of wins on the night.