King to lead Hillsboro wrestling team

These returning veterans will lead the 12-member wrestling team at Hillsboro this winter. Pictured from left are William Spaich, Kyle Horton, Jaden Priest, Travis King and Mac Bartel.
These returning veterans will lead the 12-member wrestling team at Hillsboro this winter. Pictured from left are William Spaich, Kyle Horton, Jaden Priest, Travis King and Mac Bartel.
With a roster of 12, Hills­boro wrest­ling coach Scott O’Hare knows his Trojans will struggle for success in dual meets in a sport that offers opportunities to score in 14 weight classes.

“Only filling a maximum of probably 10 weight classes—that’s barring injury, sickness and everything else—dual meets are going to be tough for us,” he said. “But, I think throughout the lineup we have some kids who are going to compete pretty well for us in individual tournaments, which is exciting.”

Seniors and juniors

At the top of that card is O’Hare’s only senior, Travis King, a state qualifier in Class 3-2-1A at 138 pounds for the past two seasons. He likely will compete at the weight again this year.

“I’m expecting a lot out of Travis,” O’Hare said. “You can always count on Travis to work hard, and he’s going to give you everything he’s got, all the time. He has aspirations of doing really well this year.”

But King’s coach is looking for more from him.

“He’s a pretty good leader by example, but he hasn’t always been an extremely vocal leader,” O’Hare said. “So I’m really asking him to step up and help with that. He’s still along the line of leading by example, but (his vocal leadership) will develop with time.”

Of the four juniors on the squad, two have the potential to qualify for state, according to their coach.

Jaden Priest and Mac Bartel will compete at either end of the weight scale. Priest likely will find his place at 160 or 170 while Bartel will compete at 113 or 120.

Priest began wrestling halfway through his freshman year, but seems to have found his niche.

“He’s not extremely experienced, but he’s another one who you’re never going to question how hard he works,” O’Hare said. “In the short amount of time he’s been around wrestling, he’s become passionate about it and wants to do something in the sport in the short amount of time he has left.”

Bartel, meanwhile, has been part of the Trojan varsity lineup since his freshman year.

“He doesn’t look at first sight as a physically imposing kid, but he’s incredibly strong for his size,” O’Hare said. “And he’s extremely aggressive, very intense.”

His coach said Bartel could compete right now at 120 pounds, but is considering a move to 113.

“He’d be big 113-pounder, considering he still has to make the weight,” O’Hare said. “But he would carry the weight pretty well.”

At either weight, Bartel should be a contender.

“If we can get him settled in with some more sound technique, he’ll have a good season for us,” O’Hare said. “I know he had two wins last year over kids who qualified for state, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to compete at the regional tournament.”

The two other juniors, Kaden Ward and Dylan Horton, have limited exposure to wrestling.

Ward came out for the sport midway through last season and used the time to learn skills and technique.

“The kid has a motor and he’s extremely athletic—and extremely competitive,” O’Hare said. “He has things he needs to get better at when he competes with kids who have more experience. But his speed, explosiveness and quickness are something to contend with.”

Dylan Horton, meanwhile, is in a similar situation to Ward’s a year ago.

“He’s a first-year wrest­ler, coming out and giving it a try,” O’Hare said. “I’m hoping this can be a very positive experience for him—to be involved and learn a skill at the same time.”

Sophomores and freshmen

O’Hare has four sophomores returning who saw time in the varsity lineup.

William Spaich wrestled varsity most of the year at 120 pounds.

“He has a unique set of skills that could make him become a pretty good little wrestler,” O’Hare said. “He’s got to battle through some issues with mental toughness at times. He’s got to work hard, and we’re working with him to improve.”

Kyle Horton wrestled at 145 most of last season and either will remain at that weight or move up to 150.

“He’s just a tough, gritty, hard-nosed kid—mental toughness is not an issue with him,” O’Hare said. “His biggest thing is we have to work on a ton of technique. He’s what I would consider more of a brawler type wrestler. He’ll go in and bang heads and take advantage of every opportunity. He just needs to make those opportunities a little easier on himself.”

O’Hare said he likes the work ethic Lane Flaming has exhibited.

“He’s always very positive, always out there to have a good time—but when it comes time to compete, he steps out to beat people,” he said. “He has a lot to learn about wrestling, and he’s going to be in a tough spot, even as a sophomore at 160 or 170. But he’s going to make whomever he wrestles fight for every point.”

Conner Morey rounds out the sophomore class at the upper weights of 195 or 220.

“He’s a big kid, a long kid—he’s got good leverage at 6-foot-2,” O’Hare said. “I think this sport will help him tremendously how to use that size. I have an aspiration for him of being a really good lineman in football. This is a place where he could develop a lot of skills.”

O’Hare said he’s just beginning to know the three freshman on the roster.

Raymond Johnston may be the exception, coming off an undefeated eighth-grade season a year ago. He and Bartel will compete at either 113 or 120.

“I really have high hopes for Raymond right now,” O’Hare said. “He has the physical tools, he’s got good strength for his size, phenomenal quickness and speed.”

Developing mental toughness is a primary goal.

“When he starts putting all those things together, I think he could be a kid to really watch over the next four years.”

Taryn Norstrom comes to the team from Canton-Galva, and is the first female to wrestle for Hillsboro.

“Taryn is not coming to wrestle as a girl to get noticed—she wants to be a wrestler,” O’Hare said. “She has aspirations of maybe getting involved in wrestling at the next level. A lot of colleges are starting to offer women’s wrestling.

“She’s a tough girl and pretty intense,” he added. “We know she’s going to be in a difficult position, being a freshman, first of all, coming into a lineup. She’s probably going to be in the 145 to 152 range. She has a lot of the intangibles that would allow her to continue the sport, and has four more years to develop.”

Trevor Jasper has wrestled on and off in the local kids program and middle school, but is largely an unknown quantity coming into high school.

“He shows some good promise,” O’Hare said. “He has some skills and at least it’s apparent he’s been around wrestling. Obviously, he has a lot to learn as a freshman. It will be interesting to see how he will progress if he decides to stick with it.”

Scheduling

O’Hare said he has adjusted the season schedule to give his inexperienced wrestlers more opportunities for mat time, while exposing his veterans to opponents they usually don’t see until state.

“It could hurt (individual) wins and losses, but the intent is to give them a stronger mental capacity so when they meet some of the tougher wrestlers later—they’ll be prepared for it.”

Hillsboro will begin competition Dec. 1 with a double dual at Halstead that includes Minne­apolis. Matches begin at 6 p.m.

The Trojans’ first home appearance will be Dec. 16 when they co-host the annual Marion County Dual Tournament with Marion. Matches begin at 3 p.m.