AUDUBON – Numbers are on the upswing for Audubon.
An even baker’s dozen – that’s a lucky 13 – are in competition for coach Tyler Christensen’s Wheelers this winter, and it’s led by a pair of strong state meet contenders.
Cooper Nielsen was the lone Wheeler to make the state meet this past winter. Competing at 195, the Wheeler finished his junior season with a pair of losses but a ton of experience on the mats at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Carter Andreasen was in the hunt for a state meet berth and qualified for districts at 170, but illness sidelined him and he missed out on a trip to Des Moines.
Andreasen and Nielsen, a senior and a junior, respectively, and will probably start the year at 170 and 220, respectively, although lineup spots will depend on a number of things.
Also back from last year are Zeke Konkler (132), Keegan Deist (160), Lane Barber (195) and Alex Foran (285).
Top newcomers are freshman Jack Stanerson (106), sophomore Evan Alt and freshmen Alex Hansen and Colin Hartl (each listed at 145 by TrackWrestling), freshman Gabe Jensen (160), Jathan Carlilie (182) and freshman Jase Saunders (220-285).
Hansen and Carlile are Exira-EHK students who will be participating with Audubon as part of the cooperative program.
Nielsen competed primarily at 195 a year ago, but could be looking at 220 depending on how the lineup shapes up.
“We’ve got some guys who are doubling at a couple weights but we’ll see how the season plays out and if they move around,” sad Christensen. “We’re still so young and new to wrestling that we’re still trying to find our strength. I like to hang our hat on the fact we’re mentally tough, but we’ll have to figure that out.”
Christensen pointed at Logan-Magnolia and Underwood as the two top teams in the Western Iowa Conference, while AHSTW and Riverside will also have some tough athletes as well.
The Wheelers opened the season Thursday night at Avoca, where they met hosting AHSTW, plus Logan-Magnolia and Woodbine. A junior varsity meet is slated for Saturday, with a bunch of teams from west central and southwest Iowa expected to participate.