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Patience key for Cardinal wrestling this winter

By MICHAEL LEACH, Ledger sports editor | Nov 30, 2012
Photo by: MICHAEL LEACH/Ledger photo Left to right, front row: manager Lacey Kerr, Kayvin Johnson, Drayton Hamm, Ryan Cale, Tommy Rice, manager Haley Owings; middle row: manager Hannah Belzer, Tayler Mallonee, Johnathan Rupe, Sam Schmidt, Melissa Heasley, manager Ellen Peters; third row: head coach Tom Lamansky, Jayson Sallee, Dustin Miller, Tyler Albert, Josh Ramos, Patrick Lind and Nick Rankin. Not pictured: Levi Rupe, Jesse McLaughlin, Mikey Owings and assistant coach Adam Hadenfelt.

The Cardinal wrestling team won’t be at its strongest in December, but give the Comets a little time and they could do some damage by season’s end.

Two of the Comets’ top wrestlers, 152-pound sophomore Tyler Albert and 182-pound senior Dustin Miller, won’t even be available until January due to an injury and transfer rules. The program will be restricting other youngsters to the JV level at least until the season’s second half to ensure they’re ready.

Simply put, the Comets aren’t built to win as a team this season, but head coach Tom Lamansky is coming up with other ways to gauge success.

“They’re a good group of kids, but when we give up five forfeits and 30 points per dual, it’s hard to win the duals. We’re going to have to look at more individual matches: how many matches we won compared to how many matches our opponents won, without looking at the forfeits,” Lamansky said. “It’ll show if we’re actually competitive or not.”

Headlining the young group of Comets at Lamansky’s disposal is previous state-qualifier Ryan Cale. The 113-pound junior returns after a breakthrough second half last year that included placing third at the Southeast Iowa Super Conference meet, second at districts and one match win at the state tournament.

“He’s quicker this year and he’s more talented than he was last year,” said Lamansky. “His goal is to make the podium at state, so hopefully we’re going to achieve that goal.”

Cale’s practice partner, Mikey Owings, should also find success on the mat this winter. Owings took a year off last season but is back for his junior season at 120.

“He’ll probably have a really good season. Ryan and him practice really hard together, so I think they’ll both feed off each other and both will find more success because of that,” Lamansky said.

Lamansky also expects competitive matches out of Johnathan Rupe at 160 and Levi Rupe at 106. At 126, Patrick Lind is one of only two seniors, and junior Josh Ramos takes over at 182 where he has grabbed his coach’s attention.

“He’ll do really well this year because he’s tough. He’s a lot stronger this year and a lot quicker,” Lamansky said of Ramos. “He’s really stepping up.”

Lamansky is also knocking on wood, because even though he has put his grapplers through the wringer in practice, none of them have quit the team. Seventeen wrestlers are out for the squad this winter.

“I’m really proud of them. Usually by now I’ve had four or five people quit, but nobody has quit yet,” said Lamansky.

The Comets also look for a finish in the top half of the Southeast Iowa Super Conference meet again. After jumping up to fifth place two seasons ago, the Comets ended up eighth in 2011-12.

“I think we can try for fifth at conference. It’ll be hard and we’ll have to get better, but it’s achievable,” said Lamansky.

The Comets’ season started Monday. They travel to the Pekin Invite on Saturday.

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