Thu, Nov. 15, 2012 - [Wrestling]
With two decades of leading the Loras College wrestling program already under his belt, you'd think by the enthusiasm in head coach Randy Steward's voice he was in his first season.
"With such a large group of new kids, this is an opportune time to change and develop the culture of our program. Changing and developing the culture from one where expectations are low to a culture where academics and wrestling and training are a daily priority."
In addition, Steward said, "We are trying to instill a daily message that we are going to be nationally competitive."
Last year the team moved their duals into the 5-year-old Athletics and Wellness Center – an incredible facility that has a great environment for college wrestling. Additionally, a wrestling facility upgrade which includes a renovated Pat "Flash" Flanagan wrestling room and a renovated locker room project are under construction.
Steward is looking at a roster of 20 freshman (including seven with at least 100 wins in high schoo), six sophomores, four juniors, and two seniors in 2012.
With two early season tournaments under the team's belt, the Duhawks have crowned four champions in events littered with NCAA Division I, II, and III wrestlers, as well as junior college and NAIA standouts.
Freshman James Buss (Chicago, Illinois/De La Salle) has two of those titles at heavyweight while freshman Nick Steger (Dyersville, Iowa/Western Dubuque) won the 133-pound title at Luther last weekend. Sophomore Stephan Birt (Gibson City, Illinois/Gibson City) won the 174 pound Luther Open weight class.
The 2012 dual lineup will have its first test this weekend at Northern Illinois. The Duhawks will wrestle the Huskies, Purdue, and Calumet College in Dekalb, Illinois starting at 10:00 am on Saturday. The remainder of the squad will travel to the Concordia Open in Mequon, Wisconsin.
A CLOSER LOOK
2011 Record: 5-18, 2-5 in the IIAC (7th)
Returning Dual lineup wrestlers: Joe Butler, 174-pounds
Also keep an eye on:
Stephan Birt, who returns for his sophomore season of eligibility at 174-pounds. Evan Weaver/141-pounds, Dave Skrzypiec and Billy Wood/149-pounds, Tommy Gross/165 pounds, Conor Winel/184 pounds, Malcolm Watson/197-pounds.
Expect Matt Holmes (133-pounds) and 2011-12 IIAC Outstanding Wrestler Joe ‘Barney' Wood to return in the 2013-14 seasons.
Watch them in the AWC:
January 10, vs. Central
January 22, vs. Wartburg
February 12, vs. Augustana (Senior Night)
Other home tournaments:
January 12, "Flash" Flanagan Open in Graber Sports Center
February 2, Duhawk Open in Graber Sports Center
Circle Your Calendar:
March 2, NCAA Division III Central Regionals at Five Flags Center