The 2014-15 wrestling season begins Tuesday, Nov. 11 when Simpson travels to Lamoni, Iowa for a non-conference dual against Graceland.
Tuesday, Nov. 11 | Simpson at Graceland, 7 p.m. | Live Video
Sporting a relatively young lineup that features 13 freshmen and sophomores, third-year head coach Nate Hansen believes he has the right individuals in place to produce a successful team.
"The people we have in the room are capable of putting up a lot more wins than we have in the past," Hansen said.
The Storm made some big strides in last season's 3-14 campaign, including two more dual victories than in 2012-13. Simpson also had three more wrestlers at or above the .500 mark (4-1), three more achieve 10 or more wins (7-4) and four more achieve 15 or more wins (4-0). Storm wrestlers also compiled 59 more individual wins than in Hansen's first season (137-78).
Hansen is expecting even more from a squad that returns nine letterwinners from last year's team, and he says consistency will be the key to continued improvement.
"We need to be consistent each week," he said. "We can't approach the Graceland dual any different than we approach the Wartburg dual. You're wrestling a guy and it doesn't matter what singlet he's wearing. You have to go out there and approach the match the same."
At a Glance
- 2013-14 Record: 3-14, 0-7 Iowa Conference
- Returning Letterwinners: Sam Reichenbacker (133), Brett Roberts (174), Spencer Ward (174), Ethan Calvert (197), Brian Haynes (165), Jacob Mize (149), Shane Swank (157), Colby Vlieger (285)
- Wins Leaders: Roberts (20-15), Mize (15-17), Swank (13-10), Vlieger (11-22)
Strength in the middle
Hansen believes the middle of Simpson's lineup will be the strength of the team. With solid depth at each weight and 10 wrestlers competing from 149, 157, 165, and 174, there are no guaranteed spots in the lineup.
"I feel good about everyone we have, and that's not just talking about one guy per weight class," Hansen said. "There's competition in the room, we're pushing each other and no one is guaranteed a spot. That's another step we are taking to improve as a team."
A name that stands out in that group is Brett Roberts. The team leader with 20 wins last year, the junior from Ottumwa, Iowa is poised for a big season.
At 149 pounds the Storm welcome back Jason Clark, who missed all of last season due to injury after a promising freshman campaign. Jake Mize (15-17 at 157) and Shane Swank (13-10 at 165) will also factor into the mix.
Brian Haynes also looks to make an impact after spending two years away from wrestling. Now a senior, Haynes posted a 17-19 record as a freshman back in 2011-12 and will likely wrestle 165 pounds this season.
Light weights set to make an impact
The Storm haven't had a consistent presence at 125 pounds over the past few years, but have a few options heading into this season.
"I'm excited about our light weights," Hansen said. "Although we are going to be young, we are going to be good. I feel very good about what they are going to do and am confident they will hold up throughout the year in our tough schedule."