With its first competition coming up next week, the South Tama High School wrestling squad is working hard in hopes of a successful winter.
The Trojans officially began practice last Monday with about 30 wrestlers. They will begin the season on the competitive level with a home dual on Nov. 29. They will compete against East Marshall and Wapsie Valley.
"Practice is going good," coach Nate Van Dyke said. "We're keeping it very basic. The same things work at the Olympic level that work at the elementary level. So, it's always the basics."
When the Trojans take the mat this winter, they are aiming to improve from last year with a dozen of returning wrestlers from last year. They only graduated a handful of seniors in May and bring back 12 competitors who saw varsity action a year ago.
"We have a lot of returners coming back from last year," Van Dyke said. "We have a good mix of ages on our roster. We have a bunch of serious second-year guys, who tried the sport out last year and liked it. We also got some first-year guys who are trying it out. Then we have guys who have been with us all four years."
South Tama's star returning wrestler is senior Erik Lux. He won the 160-pound Class 2A state championship last February to finish his season with a 45-3 record. He will be competing at the University of Northern Iowa next year and with his college choice out of the way, Lux aims to repeat as state champ.
"Hopefully, I can repeat as state champ," Lux said. "I'd also like to be an undefeated state champ. I need to keep improving my technique. I also have to finish everything I do and get back in shape. I'm not there, but I'll get there."
Other top returners for the Trojans include Levi Kaufman, Lucas Shope, Kyle Llewellyn, Kade Steuhm and Kolton Smith. All five wrestlers finished last year with a record of .500 or better. Jake Thiessen and Dalton Vest also look to make an impact for the Trojans. Lux, Kaufman and Shope are the Trojans' captains.
The Trojans season is just beginning, but they have goals in mind already.
"We want to get the team down to the state dual championships," Lux said. "I'd like us to have really good camaraderie and see where that takes us, which is hopefully a winning season."