The Collins-Maxwell-Baxter wrestling team made steady progress in 2013-14 as the Raiders improved four dual victories from a year ago and sent a wrestler to state for the first time since 2008-09.
CMB finished 9-19 in dual competition on the season. The Raiders had victories over Belmond-Klemme, Rockford, Dallas Center-Grimes JV, Albany, West Central Valley, Southeast Webster-Grand, Colfax-Mingo, Van Meter and Nevada.
In the postseason the Raiders’ Dawson Dahlke won a sectional title and took second at districts in Class 1A to qualify for state.
"I was very happy with how our season went," CMB head coach Joe Bartello said. "We spent almost half our season with about half a varsity lineup, so I was more concerned with our individual records as opposed to overall team scores. I felt the kids did very well for the most part."
Along with the injury bug, Bartello also faced inexperience during his first year coaching the Raiders. Four freshmen and two sophomores competed at the varsity level and CMB only had four seniors.
But the lack of experience seemed to bring CMB together as the Raiders had to look out for each other to get better as a team.
"I think we developed a lot, uniting as a team this year," Bartello said. "I think in years past, a good portion of the team was more focused on making themselves better and not so much the team as a whole. In our sport that is difficult to accomplish at times, but this year the guys really seemed to strive to help one another, not just during competitions, but during practice as well."
Bartello stressed that the practice performances were very important for an inexperienced team like CMB.
"I think my most enjoyable moment was actually in one of our practices," Bartello said. "During our prior practice, I was admittedly a little frustrated with a particular wrestling move series we had been showing and reviewing all year that the kids just weren’t seeming to pick up. I think the kids were a little frustrated, too."
"I decided to show a couple of advanced moves, hoping maybe a few kids would be able to pick up the technique," Bartello added. "After only a couple demonstrations, literally every kid was picking up and correctly applying the advanced technique. And those that weren’t as quick to pick it up were being shown what they were doing wrong by their teammates, not us coaches. It was a moment that just made me very proud – to see the kids move with such enthusiasm and make such an effort to help each other get better."
Bartello said taking second at the West Central Valley duals and getting a wrestler to state for the first time in five years were the biggest highlights for CMB.
Dahlke had a fantastic close to his senior season.
At sectionals Dahlke was the third seed and he pinned second-seeded Shannon Dunsbergen of Lynnville-Sully and Billy Byal of Colfax-Mingo to win the championship at 285 pounds. At districts Dahlke pinned Eddyville-Blakesburg/Fremont’s Luke Welch before losing to Sigourney-Keota’s Bryce Brown by fall in the finals.
Dahlke didn’t have to compete in a wrestleback to secure second and move on to state.
"I was very proud of him for his accomplishment in qualifying for state," Bartello said.
Dahlke went 0-2 at state to finish the season at 20-15. He racked up 13 pins and one major decision.
Junior Jacob Hennick picked up the most victories on the team. Competing at 113 and 120, Hennick went 26-17 with 16 pins.
Logan Cory was 24-16 at 182 in his senior season. Cory compiled 11 pins and one major decision on the season.
"Logan really impressed me in his role as a team captain and with his efforts on the mat," Bartello said. "He really stepped up this year and showed others on the team what it is like to wrestle with confidence on the mat. His leadership will be missed next year."
Shane White also turned in a winning record for CMB. The senior went 12-8 with six pins at 170.
Freshman Even Bianchi just missed a winning record at 138. Bianchi went 17-18 with five pins and one major decision.
Beau Iske, Archer McFadden and Jordan Coughenour also reached double digits in wins for CMB.
Iske ended up 15-20 with two falls in his junior year at 126. McFadden went 14-24 with three pins and one major decision as a freshman at 220 and Coughenour wound up 10-16 with six falls in his senior year at 160.
Sophomore Ethan Cozad was 9-17 with three pins at 132, freshman Blake Coughenour finished 6-16 with three pins at 160/170 and Dylan Williams ended 4-5 with two falls in his junior year at 195. Sophomore Lane Howes added one win by technical fall at 120 and freshman Torren Schultheis went 2-8 at 170.
Next year CMB must find a way to replace Dahlke, Cory, White and Jordan Coughenour. But with nine wrestlers returning with varsity experience, the Raiders have a chance to continue moving upward in 2014-15.
"I hope to still have a good number of kids interested and willing to work hard," Bartello said. "I think we will have a good group of returning wrestlers and a good senior class to lead the team. My focus next year will be teaching kids proper technique and doing what I can to make them more confident wrestlers."