COVINGTON - The Newton wrestling team is on a mission to claim the No. 2 spot in the Area 2-AAAAA Duals on Saturday at Redan High School and earn a trip to the Class AAAAA Duals next weekend.
The Rams would like to challenge Union Grove for the top spot in Area 2-AAAAA, but coach Wes Cooper knows that will be a tough challenge for his squad. The Wolverines are ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAA.
"Last year, we wrestled Union Grove in the finals and got shut out. I think we have a team that can win some matches against Union Grove," he said. "Overall, we don't match up with them well enough to knock them off."
What Newton does have is the ability to beat teams like Redan, Greenbrier and Luella.
"I'll be disappointed if we're not second," Cooper said. "We've already defeated Redan twice this year. We defeated Greenbrier this year. We've seen Luella at individual tournaments and matched up real well against them.
"With the exception of those three teams, I don't see the other teams being a threat. Typically, they don't have full lineups and have alternate lineups. I feel like if we wrestle to our capability, we should come out second in the area."
Of the three teams which Cooper said are the Rams' biggest challengers, Redan probably poses the biggest threat.
Making the Raiders more dangerous than Greenbrier and Luella is the fact that Redan will have home advantage.
"We'll be at their place, they'll have a lot of fans, and it'll be loud," Cooper said. "They get really into the match and start chanting. It can be intimidating to our kids at times."
If Newton is to take the crowd out of the equation, it will have to do what it's done the two previous times it beat Redan - finish the Raiders off early.
"If you ever let them build any momentum, they can hurt you," Cooper said. "But if you get them down early, then they have a tendency to lie down."
While the Rams have several new wrestlers in their ranks, they also have plenty of experienced wrestlers.
Cooper will be relying on his senior leaders, Corey Ware (112-pound weight class), T.J. Jones (130), Daniel Thompson (160), Hosea Hines (189) and Alan Amentia (215), to keep the rest of the team focused.
Other key wrestlers for the Rams will be Ryan Mitchell (112), Carl Collins (125), Aaron Reynolds (140) and Joe Domenzio (145).
"We need those guys to keep winning big for us to keep getting six points when they're on the mat, coming away with pins helping us get over the hump," Cooper said. "We have some young guys coming along still lacking in experience; we just have to bring them along as we go."
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