Spartans fight through difficult season

Joe Randleman Staff Writer
Carter Davis

The Collins-Maxwell wrestling team toughed out a difficult 2018-19 season that saw the Spartans devastated by injuries and an overall lack of depth.

Collins-Maxwell rarely had more than four healthy wrestlers that were able to compete at one time. Because of the severe lack in numbers, the Spartans were never able to contend for victories in dual competition, finishing the season 0-23.

“I know we were going in with the hopes of having a bigger team than we had last year with the incoming freshman,” Collins-Maxwell head wrestling coach Mike Leslie said. “Unfortunately, after multiple injuries, that didn’t happen. We started the year with nine wrestlers and only finished with four that could still compete.”

The biggest blow was the loss of senior Caleb Fullerton.

Fullerton entered the season looking to qualify for state at 152 pounds, after going 26-9 and placing third at districts in Class 2A at 138 last year. But the dream came to a quick halt after Fullerton suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during the Spartans first meet of the season — a tournament at Bondurant.

“He was one of the returning district qualifiers from last season and was elected as a captain this season,” Leslie said. “Unfortunately, we only got to see him practice for a couple weeks and then he ended his high school career on his first match with a shoulder injury. Caleb still has plans to wrestle in college and has left a lot of Spartan records for others to try and beat.”

Fullerton ended his career with a 63-35 record, 74 takedowns and 40 pins.

The four wrestlers that were able to compete consistently for Collins-Maxwell were junior Carter Davis, sophomore Jacob Pierick and freshmen Clayton Leslie and Joseph Butcher. At the 1A sectional meet in Pleasantville, Davis, Pierick and Leslie each came in third with 1-1 records and Butcher took fifth.

“I’m proud of what the kids that stuck it out accomplished — even if we didn’t get anyone through to districts,” Mike Leslie said. “I was also proud of the way they finished the year having three of the four who competed at sectionals finish top three on the podium.”

Davis wrestled at 106. He went 9-18 with 15 takedowns and two wins by fall.

Pierick was 17-13 at 120. He produced 14 takedowns and six pins.

Leslie and Butcher altered between 126 and 132 pounds. Leslie was 10-18 with 13 takedowns and four falls and Butcher finished 10-24 with five pins and takedowns apiece.

Mike Leslie said it was great to see wrestlers earning their first-career varsity victories. He was also happy with the progress his four regular wrestlers made.

“As a whole we started to take more shots,” Mike Leslie said. “This has been a huge point of emphasis we have had over the past few years, and I would like to think this season was a turning point in the right direction.”

The Spartan coach also liked the positive attitudes his wrestlers displayed going up against adverse situations.

“The four wrestlers that we had finish the season have a great work ethic,” Mike Leslie said. “They always came ready to work and did a great job not dwelling on previous matches that didn’t go their way.”

The biggest team highlight was Collins-Maxwell winning all three of the weight classes it could have competed in, including the only two matches on the mat, in a 48-18 loss to South Hamilton on Dec. 20.

“I would say the most enjoyable (highlight) was a dual that we lost and still won all the matches we could put out on the mat,” Mike Leslie said. “It’s a weird feeling knowing you lost on the scoreboard, but won the actual matches.”

Next season, Coach Leslie hopes to see his returning regulars improve, and for more wrestlers to compete on a consistent basis at the varsity level.

“We should return four guys with varsity experience next season and hope to get some kids that were out with injuries back,” Mike Leslie said. “The team outlook is not great at this time (due to numbers), but individually we may see a couple guys take that next step. Our biggest goal moving forward would be to increase participation numbers.”