Luke Moffitt understands that to be the best in February, the right steps need to be taken now.
Wednesday night, Moffitt's sixth-ranked Iowa Central wrestling team claimed a 24-16 dual meet victory over Iowa Lakes inside Hodges Fieldhouse.
The Tritons (1-0 overall) were making their home debut, and Moffitt saw just enough to warrant a smile after the action.
"We have a long way to go," said Moffitt, who improved to 76-5 against NJCAA teams at Iowa Central. "I saw some good things, but we need to continue to work harder the entire match. We didn't score enough bonus points and we lost too many close matches.
"Still, for our first dual, we got the win, and that was important."
Tristan Bundy got the Tritons rolling at 125 pounds, picking up a technical fall over Dustin Horne. Bundy, one of two sophomores in the lineup, scored five takedowns in finishing the match at 5:31.
IOWA CENTRAL 24, IOWA LAKES 16
125 - Tristan Bundy, ICCC tech. fall Dustin Horne, 5:31 (17-2); 133 - Tyler Reiste, ICCC dec. Dylan Konechne, 11-9 (OT); 141 - Stephen Mincey, ICCC dec. Cody Cline, 7-1; 149 - Alex Anderson, IL dec. Kris Lehman, 8-1; 157 - Devin Geoghegan, ICCC major dec. James Smith, 11-3; 165 - Nate Lawrence, IL dec. Dillon Geoghegan, 6-5; 174 - Nick Lawrence, IL pinned Billy Behle, 3:52; 184 - Ethan Lindquist, IL major dec. Joe Stanton, 9-0; 197 - Brandon Bradney, ICCC tech. fall Riley Edwards, 6:31 (20-4); 285 - Chris Ballard, ICCC major dec. Glenn Cothren, 10-2.
"Tristan came out and got after it," Moffitt said. "That was good to see because he wrestled a little hesitant in some of our earlier season matches.
"He wrestled aggressive and smart, and stayed on the attack."
Tyler Reiste, the other sophomore in the lineup, earned a hard-fought 11-9 overtime decision, while Stephen Mincey picked up a decision at 141.
Iowa Lakes (1-1), which is receiving votes in the latest rankings, scored its first match victory at 149, as Alex Anderson defeated Kris Lehman. The Tritons rebounded behind 10th-ranked Devin Geoghegan at 157, as he downed James Smith, 11-3.
"We have a lot of kids that have been in the system, but are seeing their first real action," said Moffitt, who used five redshirt freshmen. "We'll need to go back to the room and iron out some things."
The Lakers earned the next three matches, as Nate Lawrence, No. 4 Nick Lawrence and former Laurens-Marathon standout Ethan Lindquist gave Iowa Lakes a 16-15 advantage on the scoreboard.
Lindquist, who finished second earlier this year at the Cobber Open, placed fifth as a senior at state a year ago, going 40-4.
Iowa Central, however, responded thanks to a technical fall from Brandon Bradney, as the freshman downed Riley Edwards at 197. Chris Ballard capped off the night with a 10-2 decision over Glenn Cothren.
The Tritons return to action on Saturday, Dec. 8 when they travel to Waverly to compete in the Wartburg Invitational. The next home dual for Iowa Central is Jan. 22 against Ellsworth.