CENTERVILLE — After a first year of competition that ended with national championship success, the Indian Hills wrestling program is ready to hit the mat for the program's second season of competition.
Both the Warrior men and women wrestlers kick off their respective 2021-22 campaigns in Kansas this weekend wrestling on Saturday at the Falcon Invitational, hosted by Friends University at Hartman Arena in Park City.
"Both schedules for the men and women are going to allow a lot of the athletes an opportunity to compete," Indian Hills head wrestling coach Cole Spree said. "The one thing that everyone is most excited about though are the fans. We finally get the opportunity to perform in person in front of our fans and it's going to be great."
The Warrior women enter the year as the defending Women's Junior College National Champions. The first-ever women's wrestling junior college national championship, the Warriors claimed the team national title, three individual titles, and 12 All-American honors last year.
"We're excited the women will have their first opportunity to compete at home this year," Spree stated. "I believe the women's team is entered in some open tournaments that will really push them, but there is great balance between the dual meets and open tournaments."
The Indian Hills Men's Wrestling team has been named the No. 5 team in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Men's Wrestling Preseason Poll. The Warriors are entering just its second year of competition.
The Warriors made a statement in its first year of existence last season, claiming the NJCAA North Central District Championship in the highly-competitive Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC). Indian Hills enters the 2021-22 season as the top-ranked team in the ICCAC.
Along with the No. 5 team ranking, the Warriors also placed six student-athletes in the individual national rankings. Returning NJCAA All-American and NJCAA North Central District Champion Caleb Meekins enters the year ranked No. 1 overall in the 133-pound weight class. Deron Pulliam, the NJCAA North Central District Champion and third-place finisher at the national tournament last season, is ranked first overall in the 184-pound weight class.
Sophomore Chris Busutil, the NJCAA North Central District Champion in the 125-pound weight class a year ago, is ranked third overall this season. Busutil placed fifth overall at last season's national championship to earn All-America honors.
Returning All-American Khris Walton enters the year ranked sixth overall in the 197-pound weight class while Victor Guzman is ranked seventh in the 141-pound weight class. Guzman earned All-America honors last season for the Warriors.
The lone newcomer to earn preseason recognition for the Warriors is Cameron Nesbitt who is ranked seventh overall in the 165-pound weight class. Nesbitt joins the Warrior program after a year at Ellsworth Community College.
The Warriors are joined by five other ICCAC programs in the top-24. NIACC enters the season ranked No. 7 followed by No. 9 Iowa Western Community College, No. 10 Iowa Central Community College, No. 16 Iowa Lakes Community College, and No. 20 Ellsworth.
Clackamas Community College, the three-time defending national champions, is ranked No. 1 overall in the poll.
The month of December features a dual at William Penn University on Dec. 7 before the team's first home event, a tri-meet with Iowa Western Community College and Hastings College on Dec. 11 at Lakeview Elementary in Centerville.
The Warriors open up the new year with a home dual vs. Central Methodist on Jan. 11 before heading to the York Open in Nebraska on Jan. 15. Indian Hills hosts the CoEd Clash on Jan. 28 before finishing off the season Feb. 5 at the Grand View Open in Des Moines.
The Warrior men will host Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) foes Iowa Central Community College on Nov. 10 and Ellsworth Community College on Nov. 17. Following a trip to the Lindenwood Open on Nov. 20, the Warriors head to Mason City for a dual with NIACC on Dec. 1.
"The men are going to be tested and tested early," Spree added. "In the first few weeks, they will see a couple of the toughest teams in the country between Iowa Central and NIACC."
The Warriors head into the new year with the premiere regular season event, the National Duals hosted by Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami on Jan. 14-15. Other home events throughout the year include a dual with Iowa Western Community College on Jan. 19 and the CoEd Clash on Jan. 28.
Indian Hills will also host the 2022 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) North Central District men's wrestling tournament. The qualifier for the national tournament is set for Sunday, Feb. 13, at Lakeview Gymnasium in Centerville.
"This is a great opportunity for our program to showcase the passion for collegiate wrestling in Southeast Iowa," Spree said. "To have the top teams in the country come to Centerville will be a truly special event that our fans, student-athletes, and community will embrace. We look forward to hosting a great tournament in a true wrestling environment."
The Warrior men captured the 2021 North Central District Championship in its inaugural year of competition, outlasting the field with 127 points. Indian Hills went on to finish eighth overall at the 2021 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship and earned three NJCAA All-Americans.
This year's NJCAA National Championship is set for March 4-5 in Council Bluffs at the Mid-America Center.