NEW MARKET — With a pair of returning semi-state qualifiers and a handful of talented freshmen, the Southmont wrestling team hopes to repeat as Montgomery County and Sagamore Conference champions and compete for its first sectional title since 2016.
Seniors Riley Woodall and Dillan Lauy both return after qualifying for the semi-state a season ago. The Mounties also return seniors Evan Francis, Isaiah McMasters, and Dylan Conkright, who missed his junior season due to an injury.
Juniors Noah Benge, Gerald Hutson, Collin Martin, and Zayden Dunn all qualified for the regional last season, and coach Jamie Welliever expects junior Xavier Essex, and sophomores Kaden Newgent, Justin Emerson, and Elijah Neal to all make an impact.
If the returning varsity experience wasn’t enough, the Mounties are excited about what the freshmen class brings to the program.
“We have a fantastic freshmen group,” Welliever said.
He expects Wyatt Woodall, Maddox Cade, Marlin Williams, and Jeffery Pine to all make an immediate impact. Trip Ward, Brier Riggle, Peyton Newgent and Ayden Dickerson are all expected to help out as well.
Southmont won its first conference championship since 2008 last season, and the Mounties are hopeful to compete for another, but Welliever understands they must first do what is necessary to assure a full season.
“We have to do everything needed to have a season,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to set a lot of specific team goals right now without knowing exactly how the schedule is going to look.”
Southmont has a number of dual meets scheduled, including their season opener tonight at Covington, but Saturday tournaments, which make-up the majority of the Mounties’ schedule, will have a different look to them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. One of those meets includes a return trip to the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Team State finals.
“The team is very excited to be going back to Team State this year, and we expect to compete very well in that team format,” Welliever said.
The pandemic has also altered the way practice is conducted for the Mounties along with other teams around the state, but Welliever commends his wrestlers and assistant coaches Rick Overfield, Juan Grino, and Rachel Welliever for how they’ve adapted.
“We coaches have had to take a less of a hands on approach to giving instruction, but with coach Overfield, Grino, my daughter Rachel, and myself these guys are receiving some great technical instruction, and the wrestlers have been picking up on things very quickly.”
Much like the approach last season, the Mounties will need a complete team effort to repeat the same program success.
“It will have to be the same formula as last year,” Welliever said. “Every wrestler will need to place as high as possible. We do expect some champions, but those seconds, thirds, and fourths will likely make the difference.”