With the fall sports season officially turning the page, that gives way to the winter season and the start of the 2019-20 wrestling season.
For the Waukee High School wrestling team, there lies a lot of hype and positivity entering the new season. Before the football season concluded, that hype included a pre-season top 100 national rankings along with just two other Iowa based high schools. It was an honor that provided two different aspects for Warrior head coach Chad Vollmecke.
“It is a nice feeling to be recognized like that but at the same time we’re striving for more,” said Vollmecke. “There are two other Iowa schools in Southeast Polk and Waverly-Shell Rock. While we’re happy being thought of as the 35th best team in the country, but that also means that we’re the third-best team in Iowa and our goal is always to be number one.”
Along with the national recognition, the Warriors recently received state-wide recognition as they were deemed the sixth-ranked team across the Class 3A landscape by IAwrestle.com. With seven Warriors entering the season wielding top-ten individual rankings, Waukee seems well poised to rise up to meet their goal of being number one.
Beginning with the 106-pound weight class, junior Elijah Hofbauer represents Waukee as the tenth-ranked wrestler and continues the work done last season. He was part of a strong underclassmen group that coach Vollmecke was really pleased with last season.
“We have a lot of strong underclassmen and this group and it’s exciting for what they will bring in the years to come,” said Vollmecke.
Another part of that strong underclassmen group from last season was Thurman Christensen who will now enter the 2019-20 campaign as the third-ranked 120 pound Class 3A wrestler. Then there comes Cody Anderson who is the highest-ranked Warrior resting at second in the 152-pound weight class within the Class 3A ranks. After producing a tough 2018-19 campaign, junior Jermaine Sammler comes back from a 20 plus win season and enters the new year with a top-ten preseason ranking as well. The junior comes in ranked eighth in the 160-pound weight class.
Continuing down the talented roster for Waukee, Griffin Gammell comes back after a state bound campaign last season. As just a sophomore, Gammell returns as one of the premier 182-pound wrestlers within the Class 3A ranks, currently slotted as the seventh individually ranked wrestler. Cael Thorson in the 220-pound weight class matched the highest placement for a Warrior. The senior will kick off the 2019-20 campaign ranked second in the 220-pound weight class. Finally, among several collegiate football offers, fellow senior Connor Arndt will join the individually ranked as well. Within the 285-pound weight class, Arndt is ranked seventh overall in the preseason polls.
The one thing that Warrior wrestling has proven time and time again has been their ability to live up to the preseason excitement. With all the experience returning, there’s no doubt that another heavy presence at state duals and individual tournament is on the horizon for Waukee wrestling.