The 2013-14 season was a rebuilding year for the Nevada wrestling program as a young Cub program went 5-24 in dual competition on the season.
Nevada was 3-6 against Heart of Iowa Conference foes and picked up non-conference victories over Van Meter and Colfax-Mingo. The Cubs had three freshmen and two sophomores as major contributors at the varsity level; only three seniors wrestled more than 10 matches.
“Wrestling provides the opportunity to compete, both individually and as a team and I thought the individuals that competed did an excellent job,” Nevada head coach Hesston Johnson said. “That’s something our wrestlers can be proud of. Our team record was not indicative of the individual efforts of the wrestlers.”
The Cubs defeated Collins-Maxwell-Baxter by a 48-34 score in their first dual on Dec. 5 at Nevada. They added a 45-27 win over South Hamilton and gave Colfax-Mingo a 57-16 beating on Dec. 12.
On Jan. 28, the Cubs defeated Colfax-Mingo again, this time winning by a 35-25 score. Only one of the two matchups between Nevada and Colfax-Mingo counted as a HOIC dual.
Nevada’s final victory was a 42-21 triumph over Van Meter at the Colfax-Mingo duals on Feb. 1.
In addition to inexperience, Nevada also had trouble filling its upper weight classes. The Cubs had to forfeit frequently at 182, 195, 220 and 285 during the season.
“We were short-handed in the upper weights, so our dual record wasn’t indicative of how our lower and middle-weights performed,” Johnson said.
The three regular senior competitors for the Cubs this season were Evan Rix, Kody Harrelson and Erik Tanner.
“We had good leadership from our seniors,” Johnson said. “We were consistently improving, which is what we look for.”
Rix was the lone Cub to advance to the district round of postseason competition from Nevada.
Rix placed third at the 2A district meet in Webster City after winning his first-ever tournament title with a sectional championship the week before in Story City. Rix finished 36-14 at 113 pounds and totaled 15 pins, six major decisions and four technical falls.
“Evan won 120 matches in his career and was a two-time district qualifier,” Johnson said. “That is an awesome accomplishment. He is a good leader, great competitor and has great character.”
Harrelson wrestled mainly at 160. His finished the season at 24-23 with 14 pins and two victories by major decision.
“Kody put a lot of extra effort into wrestling and it showed on the mat,” Johnson said. “He developed himself into being a really tough match for people and he placed in every tournament this year.”
Tanner competed at 126. He posted a 20-20 record with 13 pins.
“Erik is an extremely hard worker,” Johnson said. “He led through example and has great character. He developed himself into a really tough wrestler.”
Junior Traye Pelzer was the top underclassman for Nevada. He went 24-19 at 145 with five pins, one technical fall and one major decision.
“Obviously Traye has shown over the last couple of years that he is going to be right there with the best of them,” Johnson said. “This year he showed he is going to win a lot of those tough matches. He will be looked upon for leadership next year.”
Sophomore Peyton Sharp, freshman Wayne Beard and senior Mark Trullinger also picked up double-figure win totals for Nevada on the season.
Sharp competed at 138. He went 16-27 with 13 pins and one major decision.
Beard finished 13-28 at 106. He compiled six pins, one technical fall and one major decision.
Trullinger finished 13-13 at 285. Trullinger was injured for a good portion of the year – missing out on the postseason – and he wound up with six pins.
Trice Logsdon (9-16 at 170/182), Calvin Schneider (seven wins at 132), Cody Weier (five wins at 152), Alex Peebles (five wins at 170), Lucas Schneider (three wins at 152) and James Cheek (six wins at 106) rounded out the regular varsity competitors for Nevada.
Next season the Cubs have a good shot at becoming a stronger team. It will be hard to replace the seniors, but with the majority of the varsity talent back and a good-sized eighth-grade class coming up, Johnson sees a chance for improvement in 2014-15.
“It is an interesting time right now,” Johnson said. “We have some seasoned wrestlers on the verge of being really good and some young wrestlers with a season of experience. Now that we know what it takes to compete at a high level, can we make the adjustments necessary to take the next step forward? I think the wrestling team can do well next year. I think the pieces are in place for a group of hungry freshmen to compete for the varsity spots as well. We lose three really good seniors, but have 8-10 freshmen looking to replace those guys. There will be competition in the room.”