With a field of about 29 teams, more than 100 ranked wrestlers and more than half of the ranked teams in Classes 6A and 5A with more ranked teams in Classes 4A and 3-2-1A, the 55th Newton Invitational Tournament of Champions looks to again be one of the toughest regular-season tournaments in the state.
The Railers will shoot to be among the leaders in the field. Newton already has one tourney win under its belt at Bishop Carroll, along with top finishes at the Douglass Goodwill Invitational and last weekend’s Derby Invitational.
“Our tournaments get harder as the season goes,” Newton coach Tommy Edgmon said. “The Derby Tournament was a two-day tournament, and the toughest tournament we’ve been to so far. Coming into the TOC, 30 teams and a two-day tournament, we have to step up and rise to the challenge.”
Top contenders for the Railers include Grant Treaster (18-1), who is top-ranked at 113 pounds; Wyatt Hendrickson (17-1), who is top-ranked at 195 pounds; and Cyle Gautschi (11-0), who is second-ranked at 220 pounds.
Other top medal contenders for the Railers include Boone Roberson (12-6) at 132 pounds, Josh Edson (13-7) at 138 pounds and Dante Harper (17-3) at 160 pounds.
Others expected to compete this weekend include Zach Engelken (8-8) at 106, Sawyer Mock (8-10) at 120, Gaige Llamas (0-0) at 126, Ben Crump (0-4) at 145, Nick Antonowich (0-3) at 152, Bryan Cusick (6-5) at 170, Brayden Miller (4-13) at 182 and Brecken Wedel (6-9) at heavyweight.
Newton features a lineup with five seniors, two juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen.
“We some things to clean up from Derby and some things to clean up from Bishop Carroll,” Edgmon said. “There are a lot of things we need to work on individually. We’ve been working on those in the (wrestling) room. I’d like to see us do those on the mat.”
Some of the top team contenders include top-ranked Derby (6A), third-ranked Washburn Rural (6A), seventh-ranked Dodge City (6A), ninth-ranked Olathe South (6A), 10th-ranked Wichita South (6A), second-ranked Maize (5A), third-ranked Blue Valley Southwest (5A), fourth-ranked Valley Center (5A), eighth-ranked Newton (5A), ninth-ranked Emporia (5A), top-ranked Arkansas City (4A), second-ranked Andover Central (4A), ninth-ranked McPherson (4A), fourth-ranked Norton (3-2-1A) and ninth-ranked Riley County (3-2-1A). Riley County is new to the TOC field.
Arkansas City is the defending TOC team champion.
“If we wrestle well, we can finish in the top five,” Edgmon said. “I’d like to see us do that. I’d like to see guys perform well. Derby had some good competition for us. Derby will be (in contention). Maize will be there. Blue Valley Southwest will be there. There are going to be some good teams. Almost every team will have a really good wrestler there.”
While most of the tournaments Newton has competed in this year have medaled four to six wrestlers, eight will medal at the TOC, which will give wrestlers a chance to wrestle more matches.
“We have to do well on the backside,” Edgmon said. “If a guy loses, they can still do well by wrestling on the backside and get us more points.”