By Brady Pfaadt
Bellarmine wrestling head coach Spencer Adams brought in the program’s first recruiting class this season, a big step forward for the team. The new additions allow the team to have a full roster for the first time. Last year, the team had to forfeit 30 percent of its matches due to its incomplete roster.
“Last year we were trying to survive. This year we are looking to make a name for ourselves,” Adams said.
The team is very young, with 12 freshman out of the 19 team members. With such a young team, Adams said he believes leadership is vital to create role models for future teams.
“Andy Dobben and Gage Branson are the team leaders,” Adams said. “They are good wrestlers, they win, and they fit the mold as to what the younger guys should look up to. As the year goes on, others will step up and become leaders as well.”
Dobben said being a leader is important to him. “With so many young guys, it is important for the older guys to show them the ropes so they can become leaders in the future,” he said.
The Knights have tough tasks in front of them as they go into their second season. The Great Lakes Valley Conference is considered by the NCAA to be one of the top conferences in the country, and its Midwest region is considered to be even tougher with nine teams currently ranked in the top 25.
However, the team has reasons to be very positive about its future. Although the grapplers may be young, they are very talented. Freshman Andrew Sams garnered the program’s first GLVC Wrestler of the Week Award while competing against top-tier opponents.
“We are very young so it is going to take time to get where we want to be,” Sams said. “Everyone pushes each other to be the best they can be, and we will be a fun team to watch as the year progresses.”
Many of the other freshmen have impressed Adams as well while competing. “They are doing things now that most freshmen just don’t do,” Adams said.
Seeing the talent in his young team, Adams said one of his main goals is to get some of the team to the national meet. Adams said he wants to attract a recruiting class annually that resembles this talented group of freshmen. If this were to happen, he said he believes the program could be a national contender within five years.
“I think it would be very important for our program as a recruiting tool in that we went to nationals with such a young team,” Adams said.
But Adams said he is concerned about improvement on a daily basis in every aspect with his team, whether it be on or off the mat.
“I want our team to have good grades,” Adams said. “With all freshmen, they come in and there are a lot of distractions. To add onto that, they are going through harder practices, and some of the toughest matches they have been in. So what suffers sometimes is grades. So we are really trying to emphasize the academics for our team.”