MASON CITY — When Jacob McBride looks back on his prep wrestling career so far, he feels there’s still plenty left he has to prove.
McBride was solid as a freshman at Newman, but came up short of his goal of making the state tournament. Last year that goal was finally achieved, but he got a tough draw once down at Wells Fargo Arena and his experience was brief.
Back for his junior season, McBride, along with a host of other Newman wrestlers, is hoping to take the next step forward in his wrestling career.
“Hopefully looking to make more of a statement this year because freshman year I didn’t make it to state, sophomore year I followed (Rockford’s Will) Portis who I basically ended up getting second to in every tournament and he’s finally gone,” McBride said. “With him gone I’m looking to get to the top and try to go to state.”
McBride, the Knights’ 126-pounder, is someone longtime Newman coach Mark Bertsch looks to as an example of how things should be done in the Newman wrestling room.
McBride has the resume, but he also has the work ethic to back up what he shows on the mat.
Now that he’s in that position to be one of the top guys around, he’s not taking it too lightly.
“I thought it would be worse but for right now I’m just kind of trying to stay how I thought when I was an eighth-grader going into my freshman year and not try to think about how big I am compared to the other guys,” McBride said. “The more I psych myself out it’s just going to be harder, so I have to keep a mindset of I just have to keep working because the moment I let my guard down I’ll start falling down again.”
In addition to McBride, Newman returns five district qualifiers, including Ben Jacobs, who worked his way to the state tournament alongside McBride last season.
Jacobs, a junior, was the surprise of last year’s district tournament as he cruised to state in dominating fashion. Bertsch is looking for Jacobs to build off that this year.
“Ben’s situation was he was in the right place and he took advantage of it last year,” the coach said. “He knew when he got to the sectional he looked around and was like ‘I’ve got just as good of an opportunity to get through as everybody else.’ We’re hoping that’ll still be something that’s on his mind as well as the other kids.”
After the two state qualifiers, Newman has state hopefuls in George Schmit, Kameron Black and Chase McCleish.
Bertsch is looking for big things out of those three, in addition to the continued improvement of the Knights’ three seniors Caden Kratz, Jacob Smith and Will Gribben. With a few moving parts before the season the Knights will be a little light on the numbers, so Bertsch knows this year is all about building toward the postseason for the individuals.
The Knights’ know the situation they’re in, too.
“The guys who are out are the guys that care and the guys that really matter, so the guys who are out are all going to help me and we’re all going to go to state,” McBride said.