Springfield wrestlers stepping up to challenge

Greg Kohntopp
The Suburbanite

SPRINGFIELD TWP. Wrestling is a sport where adjustments, adaptability and resilience are paramount.

Both in an individual match and over the course of a season, wrestlers need to be able to change course and react to what an opponent is doing and rise to the occasion in big moments.

Springfield Spartans

In the lead-up to the start of their season, the Springfield Spartans are learning what it looks like for them to get ready for a campaign unlike anything before it. As a young team light on varsity experience, the Spartans are trying to make use of the preseason to drill down on areas of their respective games that need refined and improved.

"It's going pretty well. They're showing a lot of heart and they also see that desire that I have ... they know that I get on them at times, but they know it's me looking for the best for them," second-year head coach Nick Porter said. "When they see that, they're going to wrestle harder. They want to win for themselves, but they also see my expectations and feel my fire."

With 14 athletes on the roster, there isn't a ton of depth upon which to rely and that means many of the team's younger competitors will be asked to step up to varsity competition despite not having much experience on that level. There is only one senior on the roster, creating a need for others to step up and join in the effort to provide leadership for the squad.

The lone senior is Jesse Davidson, who will wrestle at either 145 or 152 pounds this season. Porter praised Davidson for the improved work ethic he displayed over the summer and leading up to the season, setting an example the second-year coach hopes the team's underclassmen will follow.

Along with Davidson, junior Dominic Hahn returns as one of the veterans for the Spartans and after qualifying for the district tournament as a freshman and being an alternate for districts last season, the 113-pounder has his sights set on making another trip to the district level and possibly going further into the postseason.

"He's a very tough wrestler who's also very experienced and has wrestled really well for us," Porter said of Hahn. "With Jesse and Dominic, the younger guys hopefully see where they can get to and they're all really hard workers."

Porter knows it can be a struggle for underclassmen who are wrestling varsity competition for the first time and ahead of the team's first tournament of the season, set for Dec. 12 at Marlington, part of the focus in practice is drilling so that the freshman and sophomores who'll be competing that day are ready for their first varsity matches.

"We're really young and inexperienced, so we're just drilling a lot in the (wrestling) room," Porter said. "It's just staying on them, working with them and letting them know they're not the only ones who are going through that."

The Marlington tournament, like so many sporting events in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been adapted from its normal form in order to allow the event to take place while creating as safe an environment as possible for all involved. In that spirit, organizers have divided the field into two parts, with half set to compete on Dec. 11 and the other half competing the following day.

While that will alter the overall structure of the field and remove half of the potential opponents for each team, Porter knows that it's likely the first of many plot twists his team will face this season. The Spartans' first league meet in the inaugural season for the new Metro Athletic Conference will be five days after the Marlington tournament as they battle Ravenna on Dec. 17.

As they deal with a constantly changing schedule and the hurdles that will come with it, the Spartans are also working to gain experience and get their new faces up to speed as soon as possible. It won't be an easy task, but then again, in wrestling it's rare for anything to be easy.