Newell To Wrestle In College For Davidson
Not long after Steven Newell got his first taste of the state tournament, the Dallas wrestler heard from his first college.
Newell won his second consecutive District 2 Class 3A championship in February and took fourth in the Northeast Regional to advance to the PIAA tournament. The 170-pounder held his own there, going 2-2 against stiff competition.
If that put him on Davidson’s radar, his blip only grew more when he made the state’s all-academic team. The Wildcats liked what they saw from Newell on the mat and in the classroom, he said, and an unofficial and official visit made that feeling mutual before long.
Newell, one of the Wyoming Valley Conference’s top returning wrestlers for the 2018-19 season, recently announced his verbal commitment to Davidson College. He’ll hold a formal announcement and sign his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday at Dallas.
“It was actually the first school I visited. It almost seemed like it was a perfect college. It felt like home as soon as I got there,” Newell, The Citizens’ Voice’s reigning Wrestler of the Year, said in a phone interview. “It gave a small-town feel, like Dallas is, and it’s a super nice area on Lake Norman.
“I came home from the visit feeling really good. I wanted to go there super bad.”
Newell gave positive reviews across the board from his visits to the 1,810-student campus located in Davidson, North Carolina.
He sat in on a class, checked out wrestling practices, met with the coaching staff and wrestlers and hung out at the lake-side recreation area for students during his official visit. Newell also mentioned he was drawn to Davidson’s use of its Honor Code, which requires students “to refrain from stealing, lying about College business, and cheating on academic work,” according to the school’s website.
All of that, the college’s 19.3-percent acceptance rate and the atmosphere he found around the wrestling program were all deciding factors.
“(Head coach) Andy Lausier and (assistant coach) Joey Dance are great, high-quality guys. After going on the official visit and spending time with the team, I found the team set super-high standards among the individuals,” Newell said.
“It’s not Ivy League, but it’s right there,” he added.
In the end, Newell stuck with the school that expressed its interest and offered him first. He said he also had some communication with Brown, George Mason and Edinboro, plus a few more Division II teams.
Newell’s state tournament performance likely got the ball rolling.
“When I got so far down there, I had a good feeling I had a chance to get an offer, maybe, in Division I,” he said. “D-I is every kid’s dream ... if you’re a wrestler.”
Davidson competes in the Southern Conference for wrestling against school such as Appalachian State, Chattanooga and Campbell among others.
Though he didn’t medal at states, the two wrestlers who got the best of Newell — by a narrow margin — did. Chambersburg’s Luke Nichter beat Newell in the round of 16, 3-2, and finished as state runner-up. Downingtown West’s Maximus Hale needed tiebreaker rounds to beat Newell, 2-1, with a state medal on the line; Hale placed sixth.
Both return to the mat this season, which starts next month. Newell could get one more crack at them before moving on to the next level.
“I would like this season to play out with me placing high at the state tournament. Knocking off guys that I couldn’t knock off last year,” Newell said. “Practicing hard, conditioning hard, setting myself up for success in the best way possible.”
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