Hansen-led Spartans hoping to return to 2013-14 form

FELTON — Despite what the standings read last season, Lake Forest’s wrestling squad had a successful 2015 campaign according to head coach Mike Hansen, who enters his fifth season with the Spartans.

A 4-10 record doesn’t look great on paper, but given the number of graduating seniors from the year before it’s a building block for the program’s future.

“We had a big group of seniors graduate the year before, so you normally have a year like that after graduating so many. This year I think will be another year where we bounce back and get back to where we were, start winning some dual meets and get back to the team tournament,” Coach Hansen said.

“We actually had a good year last year for having such a young team. The two years previous to that we were at the dual-meet state tournament, so we’re going to look to get back to that [this year].”

Lake Forest opened its 2016 season Dec. 3 at the Polytech Invitational, placing 10th out of the 13 participating schools from upstate and downstate.

While it isn’t the greatest start to the season, growing pains can be expected from a wrestling squad with as many underclassmen as the Spartans have this season.

Hansen hopes to see leadership from all seven of his seniors, especially from experienced wrestlers such as Dean Fleming, Jordan Springer and junior Seth Fleming.

When it comes to the senior class, Hansen says he’s already seen great leadership from them towards the younger, less experienced wrestlers.

“It’s been pretty fun to watch them work with some of our incoming freshmen,” he said. “They’ve slowly helped to develop them in practice, and it makes our job a little easier.”

As far as season goals go, Hansen plans on allowing the kids to set individuals goals, which will in the long run help the team as a whole.

“We break it down individually, and let our kids set values on their own. Then we try to set goals that match those values,” he said.

“We get goal-specific for each individual kid. Say for a first-year wrestler, he may not really expect to be a state champ. For the senior who’s already been to the state tournament, maybe he wants to place at the state tournament. We do have goals, but they’re individualized based on which kid we’re talking about.”

Improving each individual wrestler from year to year could ultimately lead to higher team scores, and could help boost team chemistry and morale in the process.

“Wrestling’s that unique sport where it’s both,” Hansen said. “It’s the individual side of it, but then if everyone does their job and it all comes together at the end of the match then you’ve done your part as a team too. That’s one of the fun things about our sport.”

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