Lofty goals again for defending champ Tritons

Lofty goals again for defending champ Tritons

When recruits enter the Iowa Central wrestling room, the mission is always the same for the program: national title or bust.

Last season, the Tritons sent all 10 wrestlers to the NJCAA tournament in hopes of getting back on the top of the podium. Thomas Peterson clinched gold for Iowa Central with a fall in the final match of the event.

Head coach Luke Moffitt has directed the Tritons to seven national championships in the past 12 seasons. The perennial NJCAA powerhouse is second only to North Idaho's 14 on the list now.

In his 14th season at the helm, Moffitt has high hopes again this winter for his squad.

"Any time you have a good year, you want to do the same the next time around," Moffitt said. "There are a lot of questions right now, which is normal early on. Our goal is always the same: bringing 10 guys to nationals.

"Don't look at us right now. Wait until February."

The Tritons return three wrestlers from their title lineup, including national champion Todd Small (125). Antrez Clagon (174), who finished fourth nationally, and Brady Vogel (165), who was a qualifier, are back as well.

"Todd is really good, and his leadership skills have come out. We didn't see that side of him during his freshman season," Moffitt said. "That's the progression you hope for.

"We're a young team overall, and have a lot of guys that can contribute up and down the roster."

Moffitt has two Fort Dodge Senior High graduates that will factor into the mix in sophomores Jonah Egli and Keenan Cook.

"Jonah has put a ton of time in over the summer. He's gotten a lot bigger, and could potentially wrestle at 174 or 184," Moffitt said. "Keenan had some big matches for us last year, winning against Iowa Western and clinching the dual for us.

"We have guys who have been under pressure and have done good things for us. There are guys that believe in our goals and want to win in February."

Small is the mainstay at 125 pounds. Romelle Person, a state high school runner-up in St. Louis, is also at 125.

Logan Sims (Georgia), a Tennessee-Chattanooga transfer, looks solid at 133 in the early going.

Davenport Assumption graduate and Wartburg College transfer Eric Clarke is at 141, along with state place-finisher Riley Palmer of Pennsylvania.

"All of our starting spots will be dictated by our first few tournaments," Moffitt said. "We have a lot of dual meets early this season, and we open with Ellsworth (there) on (Wednesday in Iowa Falls)."

New Jersey's Darwin Pena is the frontrunner at 149 pounds, and Cook should see some time as well. Travis Willers of Pleasant Valley, who won a state championship in 2014, will be a big addition for the Tritons, along with Jesse Beverly, a state champion out of Ohio.

Clagon, who will likely be ranked No. 1 or 2 in the country, will one again be at 174 pounds.

Eddie Smith a high school national champion from South Carolina, is at 184.

"Eddie is a diamond in the rough," Moffitt said. "He is a super-talented kid who is learning how to wrestle at the college level.

"He hasn't scratched the surface on how good he could be."

Tyree Sutton (197) of New Jersey is a wrestler Moffitt has been looking at for quite some time.

"I recruited Tyree three years ago," Moffitt said. "He's a high school and Flo champion. He put off college for a while. Now he's back."

Gunner Cash, a native of Oklahoma, looks to compete at heavyweight.

"We have a ton of guys in the room that could break into the lineup. We've been at it for a while, but we still don't have definitive answers at each weight.

"Our depth is really good — the best we've ever had. We have 55 guys in the room. Everyone has a chance to compete."

Moffitt will see his group tested night in and night out in the talented ICCAC. The Tritons, Ellsworth and Iowa Western all expect to be ranked in the Top-5.

"Our conference is the toughest in the country," Moffitt said. "The last couple of years, all five teams have been at nationals. Some schools don't have the competition that we have, but they've been getting better and better."

Moffitt also likes the fact that the Tritons pack their schedule with some of the toughest opponents in the country.

"Our No. 1 thing is to go out and compete hard. It sounds basic, but you have to compete and not take a backseat," Moffitt said. "Whether they have on a Nebraska or Minnesota singlet, you have to put yourself in position to win."

Moffitt will be assisted by Troy Bennett and Bradley Banks.

2017 IOWA CENTRAL WRESTLING

Schedule

Nov. 8 — at Ellsworth, 7 p.m.; 11 — at Grandview Open, 9 a.m.; 15 — Iowa Lakes, 7 p.m.; 17 — at Iowa Duals (Iowa City), 9 a.m.

Dec. 2 — at Buena Vista Open (Storm Lake), 9 a.m.; 6 — at NIACC, 7 p.m.; 9 — at Northern Iowa Open (Cedar Falls), 9 a.m.

Jan. 10 — at Kearney Duals (Kearney Neb.), TBA; 23 — Ellsworth, 7 p.m.; 27 — at Loras Open (Dubuque), 9 a.m.; 31 — at Iowa Western (Council Bluffs), 7 p.m.

Feb. 11 — Regionals (Fort Dodge), 10 a.m.; 20 — at Worthington Duals (Worthington, MN), 9 a.m.; 23-24 — NJCAA National Tournament (Council Bluffs), 9 a.m.

Roster

SOPHOMORES

Antrez Clagon, 174, Toms River, NJ; Eric Clarke, 141, Davneport; Wanya Clifton, 125, Portsmouth, VA; Jeremiah Colon, 125, Mason City; Keenan Cook, 149, Fort Dodge; Jonah Egli, 174/184, Fort Dodge; Anthony Jones, 174/184, Oelwein; Amari Latimer, HWT, Baltimore, MD; Nick Morris, 149/157, New Bern, NC; David Ortega, 133, Victorville, CA; Joseph Sibomana, 125, Cedar Rapids; Todd Small, 125/133, Suwanee, GA; Brian Stanford, 165/174, Kingston, GA; Terrance Thompson, 141/149, Portsmouth, VA; Brady Vogel, 165/174, Cherryvale, KS.

FRESHMEN

Yarhoski Aldiva, Culpeper, 141, Culpeper, VA; Joshua Badillo, 133, APO; John Behrens, 157, Davenport' Jesse Beverly, 157/165, Delta, OH; Gunner Cash, HWT, Tecumseh, OK; Yanni Castillo, 184, 197, Pembroke Pines, FL; Raymond Correa, 133/141, Scottsdale, AZ; Tyson Dowler, 157, Alliance, NE; Austin Fifer, 184/197, Victorville, CA; Nicholas Fox-Simpson, 174, Atlanta, GA; Zachory Gorski, 165/174, Victorville, CA; Kaiden Gosselink, 133, Grinnell; Tyler Helfrich-Meyers, 174, Rock Falls, IL; Jordan Hill, 197, Victorville, CA; Russell Jennett, 157, Ames; Chaka Johnson, 184, Chicago, IL; Ethan Karsten, 149/157, Platte City, MO; Cannon Kelly, 197, Davenport; Austin Lamm, 174, Urbandale; Alex Leone, 157, North Salem; Darin McGrone, 149, Blue Island, IL; Devin Michicich, 174, Chicago, IL; Brandon Murray, 149, Toms River, NH; Devonte Norfleet, 184, Chicago, IL; Cary Palmer, 133, Bensalem, PA; Riley Palmer, 141, Bensalem, PA; Darwin Pena, 157/165, Nutley, NJ; Jesus Perez, 184, Haialeah, FL; Romelle Person, 124, St. Louis, MO; Kevin Radcliff, 124, University Park, IL; Devin Reynolds, HWT, Cloquet, MN; Nicholas Rocha, 197, Kansas City, MO; Jose Rodriguez, 165, St. Paul, MN; Greg Schmalz, 149/157, Barnegat, NJ; Logan Sims, 133/141, Cartersville, GA; Eddie Smith, 184/197, Belton, SC; Ronald Streets, 157/165, Lawrenceville, GA; Tyree Sutton, 197, Keansburg, NJ; Anthony Vazquez, 133/141, Pompano Beach, FL; Travis Willers, 165, LeClaire.