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.
For the Newcastle Racer wrestlers, the terms are simple.
Win, and you’re in.
After sweeping Tecumseh and Santa Fe South in district duals Jan. 23 in Tuttle, the only thing standing between head coach Zach Hale’s Racers (5-5) and the first trip to the state dual tournament in school history are those very same Tigers.
For Hale, the Racer’s road dual against the 7-0 Tigers tonight in Tuttle is the ultimate test for his developing team hampered by injury.
“We’ll have to learn how to win big matches,” Hale said. “We’re gonna focus heavily not just starting strong, but finishing strong.”
If the Racers defeat Tuttle, then Newcastle will be undefeated in district play, earning an automatic berth in the state tournament in late Feburary.
Hale goes in to this critical dual dealing with injuries. 195-pounder Sheldon Dillman was listed with a foot injury earlier in the week.
Normally, Newcastle would have wrestled Tuttle during the district duals along with Tecumseh and Santa Fe South, however Tuttle needed an additional home dual for their schedule, so the match against Newcastle was moved to its own date.
The wrestlers have one more home doal left on the schedule, a Senior Night matchup Feb. 4 against McLoud.
With revenge on their minds, the Newcastle Racer wrestlers went in to their homecoming match against Little Axe hoping to avenge last season’s loss that coach Zach Hale blamed for keeping the team out of the state tournament.
It was not to be, with the Racers falling 57-21 in front of a loud home crowd Jan. 9 at the High School Old Gym.
“I thought we some of the better matches all year,” Hale said. “They just happened to get lucky in some of those scrambles, and it just went in their favor.”
Though the Racers (1-4) turned in dominating performances in some of the lighter weight classes, the Indians took over in the middle to heavy weights, including a mid-dual spurt that saw several consecutive matchups end in pins for Little Axe.
For Hale, brothers Rasaun and Raylen Gordon stood out for the Racers, as well as Sheldon Gillman and freshman Hunter Blasios, a new addition to the squad who wrestled in the 126-pound category.
Turning this group of Racers into more of a team is Hale’s goal going forward into the Jan. 16 home dual against Lexington.
“We need to keep building on the foundations of what we started, to unite more,” he said. “We’re on our way to doing so. I don’t care about wins and losses so much, as to making sure these guys have a top-five life experience.”
Newcastle’s home dual against Lexington begins at 6 p.m. at the old gym. It is their third out of only four home duals, with the final being Senior Night against McLoud on Feb. 4.
In his inaugral season last year as Newcastle’s wrestling coach, Zach Hale could only watch as his Racer wrestlers fell to the Little Axe Indians.
It was a loss Hale said would leave a bitter taste in his mouth, as the Racers were one win shy of making the state dual tournament for the first time in team history.
Now, Newcastle (1-3) has a chance to extract some revenge as they welcome the Indians to Newcastle High School for Homecoming Thursday, Jan. 9 beginning at 6 p.m.
“I keep reminding the kids that these seniors have never beaten Little Axe,” Hale said. “That still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, that we weren’t able to beat them last year.”
The Indians come in with a dominant, highly skilled team, Hale said, particularly in the 113, 120, 126, 132 and 138 pound weight classes.
To come away from Homecoming with a victory, Hale is looking for his seniors to step up and provide leadership, both on and off the mat.
“Out of all of our seniors, I’m really hoping that they will pull through,” Hale said. “It’s about time they started turning on the engines.”
This is Newcastle’s first year wrestling in Class 4A, a shift that has left them fitting into other schools’ schedules and spending a lot of time on the road. Homecoming is only the second home dual of Newcastle’s season, out of four total.
After Homecoming, the Racers will compete in the Pauls Valley tournament Jan. 10 and 11, followed by road matches with Anadarko Jan. 14, home against Lexington on Jan. 16, and away at Harrah on Jan. 21.
The Racers’ only other remaining home dual is Feb. 4, Senior Night against McLoud.
The Newcastle Racers welcome the Sulphur Bulldogs to town tonight (Thursday) for homecoming with the dual beginning at 6 p.m.
Homecoming festivities will begin at immediately following the junior high dual which will begin at 6 p.m.
After a 10 to 15 minute break following homecoming the high school dual will begin.
The Newcastle wrestling team fell to Chickasha last Thursday 66-3 but came back with a victory over Blanchard 44-18, in a three-way match at Blanchard.
Against Blanchard Cody Matthews (126), Dalton Berry (152) and Aubrey Ennis (182) all pinned their opponents.
Both the Racers and Lions forfeited a number of matches in the dual.