This wrestling season promises to be challenging for the Newman Catholic program.
First-year head coach Leland Foster says wearing masks while wrestling, dealing with low numbers due to COVID-19 and a coaching turnover may prove to be tough this season.
But he’s not quitting on his team.
“I’m not going to give up,” Foster said. “I don’t care what our numbers are. I don’t care about things like that. We will continue to try and strive and reach our goals.”
Last year, the team finished under .500 in dual meets and didn’t have a state qualifier for the first time in 15 years. Foster says every streak is meant to be broken, even if people involved didn’t intend for it to end. His team is ready to get better and learn from a season ago.
He’s hoping the community will be patient as he tries to get the program back to its winning ways.
“The outlook this year,” Foster said. “Several or many of the kids are trying to get into the district tournament. We didn’t have one district qualifier last year.”
One wrestler who is fighting to make it to the state tournament is senior Fabian Brandenburg. Foster says he’s been working hard in the offseason to make that goal a reality.
Outside of Brandenburg, Foster doesn’t like naming names. He’s hoping his entire team can step up and become leaders.
“I try not to individualize too much. I try to preach that in our room,” Foster said. “When you start pinpointing kids down, it can either make or break a kid or make a break team. I know everybody looks for a leader.”
Outside of the normal challenges that a start to a new season can bring, COVID-19 has made things even tougher. The wrestlers regularly sanitize, the wrestling room is cleaned before and after practice and wrestlers wear masks during practice.
“A lot of people don’t wrestle, and they’ve never tried to put something over their face while they’re breathing heavy,” Foster said. “It’s extremely difficulty. But we are abiding by every guideline that is put out there.”
Despite challenges, Newman Catholic is hoping to have a successful season.
Gunnar Davis covers education and sports. Reach him via email at Gunnar.Davis@GlobeGazette.com or by phone 641-421-0598.