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Waldorf enters season with high expectations

By Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – With a reliable core of returners, including two national qualifiers, the Waldorf College men’s wrestling team has high expectations for the 2015-16 season.

“We’re going to be tougher than last year, but it’s still a work in progress,” Waldorf coach Brad Stockton said. “We’ve got a great group of guys who are very competitive. I expect them to push each other throughout the year and support each other.”

Aside from 11 returners, the Warriors have added depth with six transfers.

“We’re deeper than we have been,” said Stockton, who begins his third year at Waldorf. “Guys can’t rest or relax because there’s someone right behind them who’s doing the work. They’ve got to hold themselves accountable to make sure they’re doing everything they can to keep their spot, to succeed and accomplish their goals.”

Seniors Angel Gomez (285 pounds) and D’Monte Aursby (165) are returning National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national qualifiers for the Warriors.

Gomez reached the national tournament for the second straight season last year as the Las Vegas native turned in an 18-12 record. Making a statement in a third trip to the NAIA National Championships in Topeka, Kansas at season’s end is at the top of his list.

“This is his last push,” Stockton said. “He’s been there twice and knows what to expect. His thought process should be spot-on.”

Aursby made his first national tournament appearance last season. Despite battling through an injury down the stretch, the Columbus, Georgia native posted a 15-11 record.

“He’s made great leaps every year,” Stockton said. “As the season goes on, I expect him to do great things.”

Junior Andres Torres (125) joins the Warriors, transferring from Santa Rosa Junior College where he was a California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state champion in 2012. Torres is expected to push freshman Kyle Penalosa (125) in the same weight class.

Other promising junior transfers for Waldorf include Keno Jenkins (157) from North Iowa Area Community College,  Isai Guzman (174) from Santa Rosa and Dustin Samudio (141) from Buena Vista University. Freshman Zach Milks (165) is new to the team, transferring from Luther College. Junior Joel Deere (184) is a transfer from Central Baptist College and will redshirt this season.

Dirk McOmber and Ryan Dugger both return for the senior seasons and look to do damage in the 197-pound weight class for the Warriors.

“They’re both expecting to do great things,” Stockton said.

The remaining returners aiming to make an impact for Waldorf include senior Dario Gamino (141), juniors Major Heggs (141), Nathan Guillermo (149), Jarred Becker (165), sophomores Jacob Adams (133), Austin Roys (149) and Jacob Pinedo (285).

Freshmen Peter Quintana (133), Kegan Thomas (165), Michael Dau (174), Dominick Fadden (174), James Howey (174), Akram Reshad (174) and Dyllan Guillermo (285) will contribute as newcomers.

The Warriors open the season in the Kaye Young Open on Sunday at Mason City, starting at 9 a.m. A select group of Waldorf’s wrestlers will compete in the tournament.

Four days later, the Warriors take on NCAA Division II opponents Upper Iowa University and Truman State University in a pair of dual meets at Fayette.

“I like it because they’re tough teams,” Stockton said. “For the guys coming in, it helps set the tone for where they need to be right away.”

Waldorf’s season schedule consists of 13 dates, including home dual meets against Ottawa University on Jan. 2 and NCAA Division III’s St. Olaf College on Jan. 13.

Season goals vary for the Warriors from one wrestler to the next with some shooting to be national qualifiers and others eyeing All-American honors or national titles.

“Every kid’s goal is a little bit different, but they all want to be successful,” Stockton said. “It’s good to have goals because everyone keeps each other in check.”

Waldorf’s wrestlers strive to work together in practice in order to push each other to the next level when it comes time to compete.

“The season is important, but it’s all a building block to the regional and national tournaments,” Stockton said.