MASON CITY, Iowa - "This year is just going to be a good year," said sophomore, Tony Mendoza. "We've got a lot of new people. We lost a couple of guys last year but we're coming back with three of our national placers."
After taking seven guys to nationals last year, the North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) wrestling team is hard at work in preparation for the upcoming season. Zack Santee, a sophomore and returning All-American, says last year motivated him to do more this year.
"I was like, 'Wow, I actually can do this,'" Santee said. "I think just getting out there on the mat and getting a lot more experience instead of coming out of high school not knowing what to do, but I think all of that experience really helps me and that will drive me from match one to the national championships this year."
These grapplers know there is always room for improvement. To add to the excitement, every starting spot is up for grabs.
"It's our job to put the 10 best guys out there, regardless," said head coach, Steve Kelly. "You might be a good kid, but we want the best kid out there.
"We've got lots of good wrestlers from all over," said Santee. "Every weight class is you've got to wrestle, you've got to show up day in and day out, getting the crap beat out of you. That's just the college wrestling room way. Get tough or get out."
It is a mentality that shapes them for the season ahead.
"Every team in our region is good enough to be top-five and that's tough," Kelly added.
NIACC opens the season on Nov. 6 in Iowa Falls at the Ellsworth Duals.