NTL WRESTLING: NEW FRONTIER AS TROY TAKES THE MATS
(2021-01-11)BY CHRIS MANNINGNorthern Tier Sports Report
The past two years Troy wrestling fans saw Sheldon Seymour make history - twice - and cement his status as the most accomplished wrestler in school history.
Now it is the day after tomorrow for the Trojans and coach Brandon Spiak is focused on rebuilding the program.
“We have a lot of young kids,” he said. “A lot of our younger kids got a lot of mat time last year, so we’re looking to go forward with them.”
They lost three seniors - including Sheldon - but return much of their line-up as they look to integrate the newcomers.
“We’re trying to get them to the best that they can be,” he said. “Hopefully, we do well as a team. Our goal is to win the NTL - every year that’s our starting goal.”
He believes they can fill a line-up, a big positive in a year where some teams have struggled with numbers.
“For the most part we’re just trying to be the best these guys can be,” Spiak reiterated.
One wrestler poised to have a breakout year is Seth Seymour, Sheldon’s younger brother.
Seth has had some success, including reaching the North Section championship match the past two years, but would like to take the next step in 2021.
“I’m excited to get going,” said Seth. “Get back in the mat room and get back to work.”
The three weeks off between the start of practice in December and taking it back up January didn’t help matters.
“I didn’t stay in shape as much as I wanted to,” Seth said.
After wrestling in the lower two weights his freshman and sophomore years, Seth has put on some muscle and expects to be in the 120s this year.
“People are stronger,” he said about moving up in weight. “They’re bigger and more talented.”
Spiak believes Seth’s ready, not only to wrestle up in weight, where the brackets run deep with talent, but also to take a leadership role.
“Seth’s coming out of his shell,” said Spiak. “He’s doing well, he’s doing the right things. He’s gotten a little bigger, a lot stronger, and we’re getting him moving a lot better. He’s going to put the effort in, so hopefully we can get some things to go his way this year.”
The PIAA Tournament will be even more of a gauntlet this year with four stops before states instead of three.
Seth, though, isn’t setting a hard and fast goal, instead he just wants to do his best.
“I want to make it as far along in the state tournament as possible,” he said.
Another wrestler to watch will be sophomore Mason Woodward.
As a freshman Woodward was forced to wrestle up in weight, usually against seasoned veterans who have spent the past couple years building their bodies and skills.
“I learned it’s a lot different than junior high,” said Woodward. “There’s more competition, the kids are stronger and built different. A tough learning experience, I would say.”
Yet, he still had his bright spots - including earning a spot on the podium at X-Calibur early in the season.
“I want to reflect off that and have an even better season that I did last year,” Woodward said.
He’ll likely be around 170 pounds again, so he now has a year’s worth of experience to help him at that weight.
“I need a bigger gas tank,” he said. “And to be able to wrestle with those heavier kids at that weight. I feel like I have an understanding of how the kids are going to wrestle and how strong they’re going to be.”
Spiak expects Woodward to take the next step this year.
“He shocked a lot of people,” Spiak said about Woodward’s performance at X-Calibur. “He was giving up a lot of weight. He’s another kids whose pretty strong, and he works hard every night. He’s going to give it his all - him just being an athlete is going to help him.”
The veteran coach is looking for Woodward to pick up where he left off at the end of last season; if he does that, the skies the limit for him.
“He’s a solid kid, and he works harder than almost anybody in this room,” said Spiak. “Our district, our league, has solid upper weights, so he’s got his work cut out for him, but I think he can do it.”
Lacey Hinman will be another wrestler to watch for Troy.
She’s coming off a third place finish at the girls’ state tournament and will be wrestling in the 140s range again.
“I’m really excited to wrestle more people and keep improving throughout the year,” said Hinman. “It’s going to be hard and challenging because it’s a lot harder wrestling boys than girls, but it will definitely help me improve.”
Hinman is usually at a strength disadvantage when she takes the mat but she knows that’s not everything.
“It’s not all about strength,” she said. “Technique can get you far, too.”
Spiak knows Hinman wrestles at one of the deeper weight brackets.
“She’s at that tough weight, but she never gives up,” he said. “She’s got high spirits and she’s got a motor that doesn’t quit. She doesn’t care who you are, she’ll grab anybody in the mat room and wrestle them.”
He expects her to get a lot of mat time again this season.
“She’s come a long way,” said Spiak. “She got in quite a bit last year - she struggled being at that weight, and she’s still at that weight - but it’s so nice and rewarding for her because she never quits.”
Spiak also believes that he’s going to have more solid wrestlers beyond these three, such as Jayden Renzo and Evan Short, along with a host of younger kids who are full of potential.
“I’m not going to count any of these guys out,” he said. “They come in, they work hard.”
That’s given the team hope that they can compete for a league title.
“We do have a lot of strong kids,” said Hinman. “And we have a lot of young ones coming up that can do good, too.”
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