Ready to hit the mats

Members of the Ottumwa High School wrestling program break things down following an open mat session.

OTTUMWA — Trevor Summers has set his sights on a historic senior season.

He's not the only Ottumwa wrestler to have those high hopes. The Bulldogs open what should be a memorable 2021-22 season with five returning state qualifiers, including returning state medalists Summers and Corbin Grace who are each hoping to go out in style after making it to the podium for the first time last February by placing seventh in their respective Class 3A weight classes.

Summers, coming off a 46-7 junior campaign, enters this season ranked in the top five after placing seventh at 170 pounds in his first high school state wrestling tournament appearance. Besides seeking to become a state championship this season, something no Ottumwa High School wrestler has yet to accomplish, Summers has his sights set on leaving his mark as Ottumwa's all-time winningest wrestler.

"I'm expecting to make it to the finals and I'd like to break the record for single-season wins (49) and career wins (149)," Summers said of the records that are both currently owned by current OHS head girls wrestling coach Isaiah Cox. "Hopefully, I can finish on top of the podium at the end of the year. I definitely felt like I could have given more last season. It could have helped me change the outcomes at state and allowed me to place higher. Knowing I'm able to compete with the best wrestlers in the state is great. I'm planning on being at the top this year."

Summers and the rest of the Ottumwa wrestling team got the season underway with a quadrangular meet at Pekin. Davis County and Lynnville-Sully joined the Bulldogs and Panthers for the opening night of competition. Three pins by the third-ranked senior at 170 pounds helped OHS sweep the quadrangular with a 67-12 win over Davis County, a 66-12 win over Lynnville-Sully and a 75-0 shutout of Pekin highlighted by Shoemaker's 100th career win.

It will be a busy season for the Ottumwa wrestling program. Besides the regular slate of matches and tournaments, Cox will guide the first official girls wrestling team in school history out to five different girls tournaments including the IWOCA Girls State Tournament in Coralville Jan. 21-22.

"The goal is to build off the success we had last year," Cox said of the expectations for the girls wrestling program. "There are some more opportunities this year to compete in different tournaments. We're going to Wapello, Iowa City High, West Liberty and Solon. What's great is that everyone is focused on achieving a high level of success, so everyone within the entire program is working towards the same goals each day."

Jasmine Luedtke is the epitome of that shared goal of success, entering the season as a ranked wrestler in both the preseason girls and boys 106-pound weight classes. Luedtke's freshman season on the mats for the Bulldogs included a third-place showing in the IWOCA girls state wrestling tournament last year at 106 before becoming the fourth all-time female qualifier for the traditional Iowa High School state wrestling tournament with a runner-up finish in last year's 3A, District 5 tournament.

"It felt like, not that long ago, I was in this room wrestling as a member of the Alpha Dog youth wrestling team. Now, getting ready for my sophomore season of high school wrestling, I'm on the other side getting to see the things that I looked up to when I was younger," Luedtke said. "I want to help create that same family and help make that same impact that I felt when I was coming up as a youth wrestler. We've seen a lot more kids show up and are getting the chances to join in that energy of wrestling."

Luedtke and Braylon Griffiths became the first freshmen to qualify for state from Ottumwa since Karsten Van Velsor in 2010. Grace and Zachariah Shoemaker each picked up 39 wins last season on the way to qualifying for state as juniors, joining Summers this season as seniors hoping to go out in style by competing for state championships.

"We expected to send quite a few kids to state last year, but it does feel different this year having actually accomplished that goal," Grace said. "We're definitely expecting more out of everyone this season. I would definitely like to win a district title and try to finish higher than seventh. As a team, we're hoping we can have a chance to make a run at the state duals."

For OHS head coach Jeremy Frueh, who has led several Ottumwa wrestlers to state and two teams to the regional dual tournament, meeting the lofty goals of 2022 must start with plenty of hard work throughout the remainder of 2021.

"I would like to see us build up some depth in the upper weights. There will be a lot that depends on how we do as coaches and how the kids do as athletes to determine how far we go," Frueh said. "There's a lot of potential for this team. There are some things I have in my mind that, for now, I'll probably keep in my mind."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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