Not one, not two, but three — that’s how many state champions New Salem-Almont has in its wrestling room, all competing for a chance to be back on the podium once again.

“I definitely have a target on my back because I’m on the top now and everyone’s coming for that, but it’s going to be just as tough as last year, tough competition,” senior Wyatt Engwicht said

Wyatt Enwicht is the 106 pound state champion from last season. A guy who has jumped up two weight classes to compete at 120 this year.

“It’s not too bad,” Engwicht explained. “I’m doing pretty good with it. It’s the height difference that’s the only thing — everyone’s quite a bit taller than me. At 106 everyone was taller, but not quite as tall.”

Height hasn’t made too big of a difference for Engwicht, he’s a perfect 21-0 on the year, and one thing helping him is wrestling in a room with other champions.

“It’s great,” Engwicht said. “My team is definitely why I am the way I am. Without them I couldn’t be where I am today, for sure, everyone in there.”

Engwicht frequently faces off against teammate, and two time state champion Cole Gerhardt. He’s a guy who’s just a junior, but already dreaming of going four for four on titles in his high school career, just like his brother Clay.

“Well it won’t be easy,” junior Cole Gerhardt said. “None of the years are easy. It’s going to be a challenge either way, so just have to keep working hard and try to achieve our goals as a team and individual.”

Gerhardt has state titles in the 106 and 113 classes. This year he’s making the jump to 126 where he’s found himself on top a lot winning 29 of his 33 matches.

AJ Heins is the Holsteins’ third state champion. He’s the only one who hasn’t moved weight classes, dominating at 285 with a 21-2 record.

“I mean it’s just as hard as wanting the first one,” Heins said. “You’ve got to want it the same as you want the first one.”

There’s a fourth guy in the room that has witnessed all of his teammates’ success, a factor that has driven him to a 14-1 record this season.

“I like to be with those guys, if not better,” junior Ty Wolding said. “I don’t ever want to be the least hardest worker in the room. I always want to be the hardest worker and push myself the most.”

Ty Wolding says his second place finish at state from last year just isn’t good enough, and it’s become a chip on his shoulder to reach the next step on the podium.

“Mentally wise just realizing it’s not the end of the world if something bad happens,” Wolding said. “You can really open up more if you’re not so worried about everything. If you’re stress free you’ll wrestle a lot better.”

Wrestling better starts in the same place for every Holsteins’ wrestler, on bottom.

“Our mindset has to be that that’s a free point when we go down,” head coach Dave Wolding said. “We’re definitely working to get better, and we are getting better. As we keep progressing on stuff like that I think we’re definitely going to be a contender at the end of the year.”

Contending is the hope, but a state title is the dream, and it won’t come easy especially for a team that is filling the void of three injured wrestlers, which head coach Dave Wolding says he’s never had to deal with in his eight seasons at the helm.

“We’ve had guys just step up, and they come out on the weekends and they’ve just been wrestling their tails off and definitely scoring points when they can score points,” Dave Wolding said. “That’s what it’s going to take. It’s going to take everybody picking it up a little bit, and so far everybody has.”

The Holsteins have finished in the top three four times in the last eight years, but this group believes it can be the one to do something that hasn’t been done in the program’s 51 year history.

“We’ve never had a team title here in New Salem before, and we’ve had coaches here that have worked for how many years? And been in this room for how many nights working for this? So I think that’s the biggest goals for all of us, and me, to win that team title,” Gerhardt said.