A Look At New Prairie Wrestling
Coach: Bobby Whitenack
Last Year: Third, La Porte Sectional (174 points); Fourth, Northern Indiana Conference.
Key Losses: Jon Sipes (126), Jake Pinter (145), Ben Margraf (160), Leighton Rodriguez (285).
Key returners: Brayden Ruiz, Sr. (41-10, semistate qualifier), Michael Adams, Sr. (32-16), Grant Johnson, Sr. (43-7, semistate qualifier), Luke Lenig, Sr. (regional qualifier), Tristin Balmer, So., Braden Hall, So.
Key newcomers: Chris Mays, Sr., Noah Smith, Hunter Whitenack, Fr., Chris McGrew, So.
Outlook: Numbers are never an issue at New Prairie, where there are about 65 kids involved in the program. “We try to make it a family environment,” Whitenack said. “It’s a tough sport, but we try to optimize the good as much as possible. We don’t have a lot of attrition. We always get a lot of kids out and we’re able to keep them around. These kids are going to make leaders in society, they’re going to hold a job easier, because they know how to work hard.” The Cougars return six starters and figure to have six seniors in the lineup, led by Ruiz and Johnson, who both look to take the next postseason step. “Quite a few of them are four-year starters,” Whitenack said. “They’ve always had the skill to compete at that (top) level and now they have the strength to match. We’ve got a good balance of good, young kids and older kids who are pretty advanced. There’s good team chemistry. Out of those 65 kids, 63, 64 of them are there every day.” The football influence is strong on the roster with the likes of Mays and 285s McGrew and the younger Whitenack. “All the linemen wrestle but one,” coach Whitenack said. Thirty wins through duals and tournaments is the base team goal. “We always look at team goals,” Whitenack said. “We see how many trophies we can get as a team and then the individual success will come with it.”
— by Jim Peters