Rams ready to hit the mats

COVINGTON - The Newton Rams begin their wrestling season today and they are hoping to progress and build on what they accomplished last year.

The Rams open the wrestling season today in a quad-match at Redan. Other teams wrestling include M.L. King and Hillgrove.

Last season, the Rams sent seven wrestlers to the Class AAAAA State Tournament and are looking to do better this season.

One major loss this year is Justin Smith, who as a senior last year, was the Class AAAAA state runner-up in the 160-pound division.

The Rams return three state qualifiers from last year including seniors Joey Joseph and Danny Mendoza and junior Corey Ware.

Newton head coach Chris Andrews said some other key wrestlers include juniors Allan Amancio, Travis McDonald and Daniel Thompson and sophomores Carl Collins, Joe Domizio, Tyler Jones, Brandon Lawson, Andrew Terrell, Travis Townley and Genadiy Zheru.

With so many young wrestlers on the squad, the future looks bright for the Rams.

"We have a lot of upcoming freshmen and eighth-graders and they're looking smooth on the mat," Andrews said. "They seem very trainable. I have a very good feeling about it."

The competition in Area 2-AAAAA again looks to be tough this year, especially Union Grove, which sent 13 wrestlers to the Class AAAAA Traditional State Tournament last year.

"It's tough," Andrews said. "We're in a great region. All the schools in the area have good freshmen, have great middle school, great USA Wrestling programs. It's going to be competitive. It's not going to be a walk in the park."

This season marks the second for head coach Chris Andrews, who replaced former coach Mike Mostek last season.

"Last year was a learning experience for me I found out a lot of the do's and don'ts," Andrews said. "Mike Mostek is a tough person to follow. Right now, we're progressing and it's more of a smooth process this year."

Andrews said his new assistant coach Wes Cooper has also been helpful this year.

"He's really knowledgeable and know his stuff," Andrews said. "I'm very excited to work with him. The kids are very helpful and I think the kids are excited and looking forward to the season. I'm pretty excited for this year."

Anthony Rhoads can be reached at anthony.rhoads @newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Newton wrestling

Head coach: Chris Andrews

Last year: Sent seven wrestlers to the Class AAAAA Traditional State Tournament with senior Justin Smith finishing second at 160 pounds.

First matches: 5 p.m. today in a quad-match at Redan.

First home matches: Jan. 4 against Greenbrier and North Ridge