Three years of work went into giving Steven Newell something to celebrate Jan. 25 in a match at Hazleton Area.
When it came time to record the 100th win of a high school career that still has a year-plus remaining, the Dallas 170-pounder got the milestone over in a hurry.
Newell’s 26-second pin of Bryce Torstrup represented the shortest bout of his season and the second shortest of his career.
It was a refreshing way to finish as the last bout of a match that had already been decided when Hazleton Area clinched a 42-27 win before Newell took the mat for Dallas.
“I just wanted to get out there, get it done and not mess around too much,” said Newell, who was aware of the countdown to the mark as postponements and rescheduling decisions creatied some uncertainty about when and where it would occur. “ … I could have worked on some moves, but I didn’t want to risk the 100th win. With it being a 50-minute drive, the last bout of the night and a lot of friends and family who showed up to support, I didn’t not want to risk anything and disappoint.”
That was never in doubt.
Newell scored a quick takedown with a dump, a move he has developed a reputation for executing with consistency. From there, he went right to work.
“I tilted him, then transitioned right over and pinned him,” said Newell, who improved to 27-1 on the season with his 13th pin.
Newell’s only loss came in one of two meetings against defending District 1 champion Jason Zollers from Owen J. Roberts, a suburban Philadelphia school. Newell beat Zollers in regulation and lost to him in overtime.
This year’s success, combined with last season’s dominant run through the District 2 tournament on the way to an individual championship, gives Newell many goals to pursue now that the 100th win has been accomplished early.
Newell, who is aiming to eventually surpass Ryan Monk’s school record of 140 wins, said his list of goals this season consists of repeating as district champion, winning Northeast Regionals to earn his first state tournament appearance and trying to finish his season on the podium in Hershey with a top-eight finish.
“(Monk) told me ‘records are meant to be broken’ and he hopes I beat it,” Newell said.
Just getting through the Northeast Regionals, one of the toughest tournaments of its type in the country, usually stamps a wrestler as being ready to compete on the state level.
“We have a particularly tough region and last year, I was so close and fell short,” Newell said, “so last summer that stayed in my mind when I was training.
“It put a little fire under my feet.”
Already a strong wrestler on top with 52 career pins, Newell said he worked on improving in neutral position on his feet.
That could be the difference for a wrestler who went 37-11 as a freshman, then 36-6 a year ago when he was sixth in the Northeast Regional.