PENN LAIRD — There’s no hiding what Spotswood’s wrestling team is aiming for this season.
Chris Smith, who is in his seventh year coaching the Trailblazers, said he doesn’t change anything with his coaching style on a year-to-year basis. But he did admit that with several new assistants and an experienced roster the expectations have elevated.
“Everyone has a taste of success,” Smith said. “A few were right on the edge and with everyone so close, they know what it takes to make their dreams and goals a reality.”
The Trailblazers are one of the city/county’s most experienced teams this season.
Spotswood features seven seniors on its roster, led by Zach Hartman at 170.
“Having those seniors is huge,” Smith said. “I know I can count on them. Even the underclassmen are experienced because they put in work in the offseason.”
Hartman leads the way for Spotswood with a 16-1 overall record this year.
He made it clear that his sights are on earning his first-ever state championship.
“I want to work harder and do greater things in the future,” Hartman said. “I would say redemption and fear of failure would be compelling to most of our returning wrestlers. Some were in the range of making it to state, but simply couldn’t at the time.”
The biggest advantage for the Trailblazers as a team, however, is their experience.
Ben Conahan, a 220-pounder who hasn’t wrestled yet as he recovers from a lengthy football season, said the veteran leadership for Spotswood will pay off in big meets.
“Having high level experienced guys is a great thing for this team,” Conahan said. “People are used to intense matches and that will really give us an edge in districts. During practice with these guys, iron sharpens iron. So they do a good job of helping our entire team strive to go and really take that next step.”
Colby Morris, the SHS heavyweight wrestler, agreed with his fellow senior.
“Wrestling is a sport all about experience and there not many ways to make up for that,” Morris said.
That next step for the Trailblazers is capturing a Valley District team title.
Spotswood has been close numerous times in previous years, but came up short.
“Winning a district title is something this team feels very passionate about and will work very hard to achieve,” said Ethan Barnhart, who competes at 195 pounds. “Doing that would make us the first team in school history to do so, so we are going to give it our all this season and hopefully come out with the results we desire.”
Smith acknowledged winning a district title is talked about often in the SHS wrestling room.
“There have been good teams and great wrestlers at Spotswood, but none of them were on a team that captured a team district title,” Smith said. “This team has one of the best opportunities in some time to make this goal come true. A regional title would be a cherry on top. Our goal since I've been at Spotswood was to put some graffiti on the wrestling banner that hangs in the gym.”
Whether the Trailblazers get to celebrate a title is to be determined.
But they’ve made it clear they aren’t hiding the fact that they’re aiming for one.
“To be the first team to do it would be a major accomplishment and would stay in the history books for a long time,” Hartman said. “If any year was the year to do it, it will be this year.”