Comet wrestlers get late start to long journey
By John Burbridge
CHARLES CITY — Though “mercy” and “wrestling” usually don’t go together, in the name of “mercy” it has been suggested that the high school wrestling season should start after Thanksgiving so pending participants may indulge before busting a gut to attain optimum fighting weights.
That came a little closer to reality for this upcoming season. Due to the way the winter sport calendar falls this year, first practices for wrestling — as well as for basketball — didn’t officially start until Monday (Nov. 18).
For the Charles City Comets wrestling team, it will have two returning State Wrestling Championships qualifiers for this season. They include junior Alec Staudt and senior Jack Sindlinger.
Last year as a sophomore 126-pounder, Staudt made his first State Wrestling Championships appearance where he was eliminated early in the consolation rounds by a 1-point decision while finishing the season at 22-18.
Sindlinger was a 170-pound state qualifier his sophomore season where he came on strong at the end. Despite being the only wrestler in the Class 2A bracket with a record not above .500, Sindlinger eventually became a podium placer.
A Greco-Roman and Freestyle state champion in 2018, Sindlinger was a 30-win wrestler at 182-pounds last season but was stopped short of making it back to Des Moines.
In addition to the two state qualifiers, Charles City also has several experienced 20-win wrestlers returning — seniors Bronson Forsyth (132) and Elliott Sinnwell (160/172) and junior Roush Jaeger (145).
The Comets also return Chase Crooks, who was a heavyweight freshman often going up against upperclassmen yet still attained double-digits in victories.
At the other end of the spectrum in the 106-pound class, Jacob Vais also had a successful season as a freshman.
Last season, the Comets fielded a rather formidable girls squad that took third place in the inaugural Girls State Wrestling Tournament held last year at Waverly-Shell Rock.
Returning members from that team include Allie Cross, Toni Maloy, Marissa Gallup and Emma Perez.
This season will feature the return of veteran wrestling coach Dave Williams, who previously coached the Comets for 19 years before stepping down in 2014.
“I saw an opportunity to help the program,” Williams said back in the summer shortly after his return was announced. “I know most of the kids coming back and I’m looking forward to the coming year.”
Williams had a pretty good run the first time around. During his tenure, Williams coached 49 Northeast Iowa Conference champions, 87 state qualifiers and 40 state place-winners including four state individual champions — 3-time champion Drew Kelly (97-99) and Tanner Schmidt (2008).
Williams was named Class 3A Coach of the Year 1999 after leading the Comets to third-place finishes in the State Traditional Meet and State Dual Meet.
Williams also coached the Comets to fourth-place finishes in the State Dual Meet in 1996 and 2013.
During the early Williams’s tenure, Charles City was one of the more dominant programs in the state, compiling more than 100 dual meet wins in four seasons.
“I got to experience both sides … when we were winning all the time, and times when wins were tougher to get,” said Williams, who went on to coach the Comets to more than 200 dual meet wins.