The North Polk wrestling team enjoyed a winning dual season, with six wrestlers picking up at least 20 victories in 2017-18.
The Comets went 13-12 overall and 5-2 against Heart of Iowa Conference teams in dual competition. North Polk placed fourth at the HOIC meet, crowning one conference champion, and advanced four wrestlers to districts.
“One of the things we as a staff talk about all the time is continuous improvement,” North Polk head wrestling coach Kirk Hesse said. “What happens in the beginning of the year is irrelevant, and this is what this team did. We had a couple of high points. We finished second in the conference dual-meet race. A real accomplishment for a team that started six freshmen. Also qualifying (three) wrestlers for districts was also an accomplishment.”
Senior Sully Hartsook gave the Comets an individual HOIC champion at 152. Sophomore Logan Engebretson (138) and freshman Ryan Davidson (113) each placed second at the meet.
At the Class 2A sectional meet in Alleman, North Polk came in fourth as a team. The Comets moved three wrestlers onto districts in Engebretson (145), Dylan Meiners (152) and Hartsook (160).
Engebretson, Meiners and Hartsook all placed fourth at the 2A district meet in Knoxville. The Comets placed fourth as a team.
Confidence and trust played a big role in North Polk finishing the regular season strong and moving multiple wrestlers onto districts.
“One of the ways the team grew most was in believing in themselves and their teammates,” Hesse said. “After the break, the team came back with a real belief each other, and that showed not only in the way they competed, but also their records and the team record.”
It also helped that the younger wrestlers were starting to feel more comfortable.
“One of the biggest challenges was the fact that we wrestled six freshmen,” Hesse said.
Hartsook had a great final season to lead North Polk. In addition to winning conference, Hartsook took second at districts and he went 36-8, wrestling at both 152 and 160.
Hartsook finished his career with 95 wins, fourth-best in school history. He was voted the team’s most valuable wrestler.
Engebretson also took second at sectionals to go along with his strong HOIC showing. His record for the season at 138 and 145 was 32-12.
Meiners came on strong late in the season. He, too, was runner-up at sectionals as a freshman at 152 and 160 and he compiled a 19-16 record on the season.
Isaac Larson (106) and Ryan Davidson (113) each turned in productive freshman seasons for North Polk.
Larson went 27-13. He placed third at conference and fourth at sectionals.
Davidson added a third-place effort at sectionals to go along with his runner-up showing at conference. His final record was 28-13.
Gabriel Bayse (182), Benjamin Ewing (195) and Jaren Buls (220) were the team’s other freshman competitors.
Parker Frey turned in a strong 24-12 sophomore campaign at 132 that saw him take third at conference and fourth at sectionals. Junior Josiah De Valois was 7-14 at 170.
Broc Davidson (126), Austin Halverson (120) and Will McCormick (138) were the team’s other senior regulars alongside Hartsook in the varsity lineup. Broc went 23-12, Halverson 19-19 and McCormick 13-24.
Losing those four seniors leaves some big holes to fill in the varsity lineup for next year. But with good experience coming back at 10 weight classes, plus the return of 2016-17 district qualifier Grant Cory, the Comets have the potential to be much stronger in 2018-19.
“The outlook for next year is great,” Hesse said. “We will be returning 15 wrestlers with significant varsity experience. Also, we have 24 wrestlers wrestling in the Comet Freestyle and Greco Club.”