The Newton Invitational Tournament of Champions continues to attract schools of all sizes and even a few from out-of-state looking for top high school wrestling competition.
The 55th edition of the tournament is no exception, drawing two nationally-ranked wrestlers, 12 top-five ranked teams and 26 wrestlers ranked no. 1 in their respective weight classes and divisions.
Thirty schools are scheduled to compete in the tournament, which begins at 9 a.m. Friday at Ravenscroft Gym.
Newton enters the tournament ranked eighth in Class 5A with three ranked wrestlers. Newton took on a new tournament last week, finishing ninth at the Larry Wilkey Invitational in Jenks, Okla., out of 24 teams.
“We’re doing pretty good,” Newton coach Tommy Edgmon said. “Everybody’s healthy. It’s a home tournament in our backyard. We did pretty well last year. We’re excited about the tournament this year.”
Edgmon said the team’s goals for the tournament remain the same - to wrestle well, get as many kids on the awards stand as possible and to finish as high as possible.
“We just need to wrestle to our ability,” Edgmon said. “We need to take it each match at a time. If you do what you can do, you have a chance to score points and make it to the podium.”
Newton will be led by senior Wyatt Hendrickson at 220 pounds and junior Grant Treaster at 120 pounds. Both are defending state champions and ranked first in the Class 5A rankings in their respective weight classes. Hendrickson is ranked fourth in the nation at 195 pounds by Trackwrestling, but has since moved up a weight class this season.
Also ranked for the Railers is Dante Harper, currently second in his weight class.
Newton currently has wrestlers listed at every weight class for the tournament. Newton wrestled 10 last weekend, leaving four weight classes filled.
A number of Newton junior varsity wrestlers will compete on a “Team X” as non-scoring entries to fill out some of the weight brackets.
“There’s a lot of good competition,” Edgmon said. “This is good preparation for state. Wrestling last week, we saw teams from Oklahoma, teams from Missouri and teams from Arkansas. It was different competition and different styles of wrestling. It was a tough tournament for our first tournament back. We were coming off the break. We expect to wrestle better this week. Everybody is back practicing and looking good.”
The tournament will have some new teams competing this year, including Class 5A state team champion Goddard, Seneca (Mo.) and Stilwell (Okla.). Seneca is the defending Class 1 state runner-up. Stilwell is a team returning after several decades, winning the TOC title in 1965.
Other top contenders include Derby, Manhattan, Washburn Rural and Dodge City — the top four ranked teams in Class 6A; Arkansas City, Maize and Blue Valley Southwest — ranked two, three and five in Class 4A; Winfield, ranked third in 4A; and Norton and Eureka, ranked second and third in Class 3-2-1A.
Valley Center is the TOC defending champion, finishing second at state last year.
Goddard also brings in a nationally-ranked wrestler in Troy Fisher, ninth at 170 pounds. There are a total of 14 defending state champions from last year expected to compete.
“There are going to be some exciting semifinal matches,” Edgmon said. “There are going to be some 3-2-1A and 4A kids going against 5A and 6A kids. This tournament brings some of the best of all the classes together. The weight classes are loaded and deep.”