By Haley Pauley
For The Newcastle Pacer
Meet freshman wrestler Isac Higginbottom, or Higgy as some call him.
When asked if he liked the nickname, he replied “I’ve been called Higgy off and on since Kindergarten; it kind of grows on you.”
Higgy, along with his parents Danny and Lori Higginbottom, moved to Newcastle from Mustang at the end of last school year. Little brother Caleb is a sixth grader at Newcastle Middle School and older brother Zeth is a student at Oklahoma State University.
This is his second year wrestling, having been on the Mustang Junior High team last year, where he recalls wrestlingagainst Newcastle Junior High.
“I remember we had to face Newcastle at a dual tournament – I won,” he said smiling
Higginbottom seems to have a knack for that.
“You will be watching him wrestle, and it will look like he’s about to get beat. Then in a split second Higgy has turned the kid over, and just like that he gets the pin and wins,” said fellow teammate Eddie Pauley III.
When asked about Higgy, another team member Layson Grider’s take on Higgy is simple, “He is so strong.”
Head Wrestling Coach Zack Hale added, “[He’s a] great kid, amazing strength, funny, definitely provides comic relief to a team that has had some stressful times over the season. He’s very eager to learn, and he’s not afraid to wrestle or even to wrestle up. He could be on the junior high team, but he chooses to wrestle up on the High School team. In the long run this mat time is going to help him; it’s great for gaining more experience.”
With a high school record of 8 and 4, one of the better records on the team, it is believed Higginbottom made the right decision by wrestling up.
He is definitely game for the challenge of bigger, faster, more experienced opponents. Higginbottom also tests those challenges when he is not on the wrestling mat.
“I like to do stunts at home, kind of like a daredevil,” he said.
“Winning” is Higgy’s one word answer when asked what his favorite part of wrestling is, followed by “Losing”, for his least favorite part.
Higgens loves hanging out with his teammates and considers them his friends; it’s the biggest benefit to coming to Newcastle. In fact, his dad, Danny, feels almost the same way.
“We enjoy seeing him doing something that makes him happy, being part of a team,” Danny said, “Athletics teaches him that academics are important in school too, you run the chance of being ineligible if you don’t keep your grades up. Coach Hale is great with Isac, he’s a great mentor and motivator and that’s good for Isac.”
Higginbottom hopes to continue his wrestling career at college for the University of Oklahoma where he plans to major in law enforcement.
Youth tournament coach Eddie Pauley Jr. sums it all up with his take on Higginbottom, “His potential is sky high. We look forward to great things from this young man in the future.”
By Haley Pauley
For The Newcastle Pacer
It was yet again another busy weekend for the Racer High School wrestling team, this time traveling to Catoosa’s two-day high school tournament.
The great thing about these tournaments is mat time, and with a team consisting of mostly freshmen, mat time is valuable and educational. Win or lose, a player will come away with something new every time you are out there.
Friday brought a day of pool play. Every Racer had a minimum of three matches on Friday, some seeing as many as five matches. Saturday was time for bracket play where the Racers did well and held their ground.
Freshmen Mason Ford was the only wrestler to place in the medal rounds bringing home a fourth place. Railen Gordon, junior, finished the weekend at sixth place, while Freshmen Levi Maxwell and Chris Dalton both ended at seventh. All the wrestlers came home with a lot more experience than they left.
Saturday also saw youth wrestlers making their way to Bridge Creek, where they were hosting their own tournament. With the High School in Catoosa, the Junior High boys could have taken the weekend off, yet some chose to keep wrestling and get some of that valuable mat time.
Laycin Griner, a seventh grader, was just one of many. He entered the Bridge Creek Open tournament, beat his first opponent by points, pinned his second opponent to put him the first place finals and just came up short in that match. It was a very good weekend for Griner who finished second place in Div IV at 88 pounds.
By Haley Pauley
For The Newcastle Pacer
This time last year junior wrestler Tyler Brasseaux was resigned to the sidelines with a hard cast over his broken foot cheering on his fellow Racers. This year it was the team cheering on Brasseaux.
Having been released by his doctor on Monday to finally to be able to wrestle again, he was ready to go Thursday night when the Racers hosted the Anadarko Warriors for Homecoming. Brasseaux managed a pin fall for the win in just forty-five seconds.
The Racers were full of pin falls as Freshmen Levi Maxwell and Eddie Pauley III both beat their opponents by falls also. These 6-point wins helped the team come away winners with the final score of 54 to 15. The junior high was victorious as well with a score of 42 to 24 over the Warriors junior high team.
“Anadarko is a historically tough team,” said Head Coach Zach Hale. “They are very well coached by John Holten. [They] always compete well in tournaments.”
Both the Anadarko junior high and high school teams brought only six wrestlers – just half of a full roster. Team size is just a number, according to Coach Hale.
“They travel small, but what they bring is tough, they are a very good team with tough individuals. We were fortunate in our wins tonight,” he said.
On the schedule next for the Racers is District Duals, Thursday Jan 22, with teams from Tuttle, Tecumseh and Santa Fe South coming to Newcastle for a night full of great wrestling. Be sure to come out and show your support.
With four out of seven days spent on a wrestling
mat, the fi rst week back to school after
Christmas break proved to be a busy time for
the Racer Wrestlers.
Tuesday started things off with a win for
both the Junior High and High School teams,
as they traveled to Lexington and returned
from the dual with defeats over the Bulldogs.
The High School team fi nished with a dominant
54 to 15 score while the Junior High was
equally impressive with a fi nal score of 54 to
The Racers were on the hunt for another
check mark in the Win column when they
paid a visit to the Indians of Little Axe that
following Thursday. The dual looked to be on
similar track to Tuesdays as the Junior High
boys cruised to a victory with a score of 48-
36 and were followed by the High School team
who started the dual by quickly putting points
on the board.
Little Axe rallied, and the Indians came
back to tie with the last match-up of the night.
In accordance with the National Federation of
High Schools rulebook, there are criteria to
be looked at in the event of a tie in order to
determine a winner.
Sixteen different criteria are used and have
the chance to break the tie starting with the
fi rst criteria and continue down the list until
a winner is decided; the fi nal criteria is a coin
Little Axe was announced the winner after
much deliberation. However, due to a misapplication
of rule 9-2-2 of the rule book when
reviewing the criteria, Newcastle has fi led an
appeal of the decision. The high school dual
winner is still unknown and is now in the
hands of OSSAA.
There was not a lot of time to dwell on
Thursday’s events as Friday morning brought
with it 8 a.m. weigh-ins for the two-day, double
elimination Pauls Valley tournament consisting
of 15 other schools. The Racers traveled
to the home of the Panthers taking with them
a team of 33, 21 making up the Junior High
team and 12 for the High School.
The key to a two-day tournament is to win your fi rst bout making the road to medal
rounds signifi cantly shorter. Several Racers
proved this by winning their fi rst round bouts,
including Hunter Palacios, Isaac Higgenbottom,
Jacob Bruns and Dominick Baez.
There were wins and losses during Friday’s
bracket play, but overall a good showing from
Newcastle. Returning early Saturday morning,
28 of the 33 were still in the running for medals.
After all day wrestling Saturday and as many
as fi ve matches a day, the Racers left the tournament
having four third place medals in their
possession with freshmen Mason Ford, sophomore
Hunter Palacios, sophomore and seventh
graders Jacob Bruns and Devon Baez all fi nalizing
the weekend by bringing home some
Next up for the Racers is Homecoming on
Thursday, January 15. Wrestling starts at 6
p.m. in the small gym, when the junior high
team takes on the Anadarko Warriors, followed
by Homecoming festivities, which will precede
the high school dual. Come out and show your
support for these hard working Racer Wrestlers.
By Max Terrell
For The Newcastle Pacer
While coach Zach Hale and his Racer wrestling team have been on a break from school, the team has been working as hard as ever on the mat.
The goal is simple for the young Racer group, who is comprised of mostly freshman, and that is to improve in every facet of their wrestling skills.
Newcastle’s wrestling team last competed against Madill in a dual where the Racers were defeated, but they were once again shorthanded with injuries and other conflicts.
There was improvement for many of the young wrestlers despite the loss.
“With it being the Thursday of finals, we took most of our wrestlers,” said Hale. “Some of our wrestlers had to stay home, because they needed more preparation for their tests. We had ten freshman in our lineup for Thursday’s match.”
Having already missed time, there will be two or three upper classmen returning for the Racers from injuries. Even with the returning players, the team will still be mostly filled with freshman athletes.
So far, the expectations for the team are to improve after every dual and every practice. For Hale, the biggest goal is to prepare his freshman and younger players for the coming years, he said.
The Racers will continue to compete and try to win duals or place high in tournaments, but with so much youth on one team, wins can be difficult. The team is putting ten freshman on the mat out of 14 players and right now the Racers are trying to gain valuable experience, Hale said.
The Racers will be on the road returning to competition against Lexington Tuesday in a dual and Thursday night at Little Axe.
The weeklong test on the road for the Racers will end with a tournament during the weekend in Pauls Valley with hopes to gain valuable experience.
By Darla Welchel
Despite icy roads and frigid temperatures, over 25 wrestlers from Newcastle elementary, middle and high school competed in the United States Junior Open Championship this past weekend.
On January 2nd and 3rd, Devon Baez, Dominick Baez, Kaleb Crilly, Isaac Higgenbottom and Eddie Pauley III from the Newcastle Takedown Club traveled to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Arena for the 39th Annual USJOC. Coaches Eddie Pauley and Tommie Lemons entered these boys in the Open Tournament.
Coach Keith McKellips said he took 21 boys from Newcastle Youth Wrestling Club to compete in both the Open and Novice Tournaments. Of those, Kashus Kirkes, Konher Kirkes, Michael Darnell, Max Rinehart and Wyatt Probst placed during the Novice Tournament.
Youths from all over the United States came to compete in this two-day event. The young men competed in five divisions ranging from 6 and under to 15 and under in all weight classes.
All five wrestlers from the Newcastle Takedown Club made it through the first day of wrestling, but Devon Baez was the only wrestler to make it to the medal rounds, said wrestling supporter and parent Haley Pauley.
“Devon Baez a seventh grader took 3rd place at USJOC at 120 pounds in Division IV,” she said. “The other four made it the top 10 of their bracket and just fell short of medal rounds. USJOC is the best of the best in youth wrestling 15 and under.”
Both Devon and Dominick Baez are in seventh grade, whereas Pauley and Higgenbottom are freshmen at Newcastle High School; Crilly is a sophomore, she said.
McKellips said many of his wrestlers did really well, but these boys walked away with trophies from the Novice Tournament: Kashus Kirkes, 12, placed first at 105 pounds in Division IV; Konher Kirkes, 13, placed first at 160 pounds in Division IV; Darnell, 12, placed fifth at 76 pounds in Division IV; Rinehart, 10, placed fourth at 80 pounds in Division III; and Probst, 8, placed fifth at 58 pounds in Division II.
The coaches for the Newcastle Youth Wrestling Club are: McKellips, Mike Bradley, Michael Schane, Mark Sneed, Max Rinehart, Breck Probst, Jacob Clark and Dub Kirkes.
The mission of the United States Junior Open Championships (USJOC) is to promote and develop interest in athletic endeavor, sportsmanship and teamwork in youthful participants, according the JOC website.
By Max Terrell
For The Newcastle Pacer
Wrestling has been a sport always known for its grueling schedule, intense training, and the learning curve for young wrestlers.
The Racers’ wrestling team is still trying to find their identity early in the year. The team is a group compiled by mostly freshman and have ran into some road blocks along the way, but head coach Zach Hale is confident that this group will develop as time goes on.
The team’s first dual was against Chickasha and Blanchard, in which the Racers gave up massive points to the competition in both duals. It is not uncommon for this to occur with a young team, but there was more to the losses than just the difference in skill level, Hale said.
“We were giving up 30 points each time,” he said. “But there was a band concert that night so several of our wrestlers, who are also in band could not compete. We were giving up points, but it also had a lot to do with us giving up six different weight classes.”
The following weekend, the Racers competed in a tournament that took place at Bridge Creek, where the Racers placed higher than their previous expectations finishing 13 in a tournament with 21 different teams.
Newcastle’s final placing was all the more impressive for the team, considering that out of the 14 athletes that the Racers brought to the tournament, 10 of the wrestlers were freshman, Hale said.
The placing in the tournament is a step in the right direction for the young squad searching for who they are, and as early as it is in the season for the team, Hale can already see an improvement in his squad from competing against skilled competition.
“They have all gotten so much better than when they first started,” Hale said. “Mason Ford is one of our freshman who is leaps and bounds better than when he first started less than a year ago. All these guys are so coachable, and when we can add all of them to the lineup, we will have a pretty good team.”
The Racers next dual will be on the road against Madill on Thursday, who has been on the winning end of the last few duals. Between the two, and Hale says he hopes Newcastle can begin to turn it around in the series starting Thursday night.
By Max Terrell
After the grueling practices, long conditioning sessions and the long wait that all wrestlers endure in the off season, the Newcastle Racers are ready to start the wrestling season and get on the mat.
For this year’s Racer team ,there will be a lot of youth on the squad with nine different seniors graduating last spring -- possibly only leaving one or two seniors on the team for the upcoming season. While there will be a lot of youth on this year’s team, wrestling coach Zach Hale is happy with the work ethic the young team has shown.
“I have had the wrestling room open since the first of October, and we have had anywhere from 15 to 16 kids show up at a time to come work out.” Hale said. “We will hopefully get the football guys in three weeks, not that I want them back any time soon [with the playoffs happening], and then we will be able to see where we are at with them.”
Even with the work ethic, so far there will still be a lot more conditioning on the way especially for the football players coming in. Hale says that those athletes still on the football field will be used to running full speed for thirty seconds, but wrestling requires even more conditioning.
There is no doubt heavy conditioning will be awaiting the players moving in to their roles off the field and onto the mat. Hale also said there will be an adjustment period for the students who have been out of wrestling since the summer.
Hunter Palacious looks to be one of the front runners on the team, said Hale. He has wrestled all year round and even competed in the FARGO National Tournament this past summer as a freshman. Hale says that he believes having Palacious in the wrestling room has helped make others better too.
Tyler Brasseux is another wrestler who Hale spoke highly of saying that he was looking forward to seeing the junior competitor improve his game. Brasseux is currently out with a foot injury but should be able to compete in mid-December, which will help the team as a whole.
With several major injuries on the team, Hale still has set an important goal for this young group of athletes.
“I want them to get more unified,” Hale said. “I want them to really get back to the basis and truly understand the team concept that the team will build them up to where they need to go kind of philosophy.”
Hale says that he has seen an improvement in the entire team and not just one competitor since the group has begun training together again changing the training routines of the past.
“The entire team has improved from last year,” he said. “We have changed the way that we drill now and have tried to emulate a college drilling session. We are drilling them hard, and the thing is the kids love it. They are drilling hard, and are becoming more comfortable being in the attacking position.”
For a team eager to begin competing, the hard work will pay off as the Racers will only have to wait a short time after Thanksgiving to get on the mat.
The Newcastle Racers are seeking runners for the Racer Run 2014 fundraiser.
Proceeds from the run benefit the Racers wrestling program, including grades seven through 12.
The course will have a series of challenges including three mud pits, logs floating in a creek that runners must maintain balance across, tire flips, climbing ropes and a spear throw challenge.
Mud run obstacle course races have become a growing fitness trend across the United States, with Oklahoma hosting 10 different mud run races between throughout the late spring and summer seasons, according to MudRunGuide.com.
Hale modeled The Racer Run based on Oklahoma City’s larger Ultimate Mud Warrior obstacle course race, which participants have called, “the best mud run ever,” according to its website.
Hale believes better funding for the wrestling team is essential to its success in competitions, he said.
“The football team will make it to the playoffs and the whole town goes crazy,” Hale said. “I want the community to recognize these boys … the wrestlers’ hard work. We can’t even always afford for everyone to have the same uniform.”
The Pacer’s own staff writer, Ryan Croft, will chronicle his participation in the event with a high-impact, high definition video camera strapped to his head.
Anyone interested in entering the race can visit newcastleracerun.com and use the promotional code, “racerrun14,” to receive $15 off the entry fee.
When the Newcastle Racer wrestlers travelled to Tuttle on Jan. 30, they went knowing their last shot at making the state dual tournament depended on them beating the undefeated Tigers.
What happened is something Racers coach Zach Hale would love to forget.
Newcastle (6-6) was dominated in every aspect of the game, failing to score a single point on the way to an 80-0 thrashing by their cross-town division rivals.
Things only got worse for Hale’s Racers, as they went in to the Midwestern Conference Tournament in Bethel, failing to rank a single wrestler on their way to a 12th place finish in the 16-team tournament.
“Coming off of the Tuttle loss, my kids confidence was just shot,” Hale said, calling the Tuttle loss the worst in his career.
Cody Matthews turned in the best record during the tournament for the Racers. At 132 pounds, Matthews went 3-2, defeating Kailyn Ramos of Prague and Ronnie Jones of Little Axe by fall, with Noble’s Trevor Pendarvis forefitting their matchup for Matthews’ third win.
By comparison, six other Racer wrestlers failed to record a single win during the tournament, two of which failed to score a single point.
With senior night against McLoud postponed due to weather, the Racers’ final dual of the season is Feb. 6 in Elgin. A makeup date for McLoud has not been announced.