Strong season inspires winning attitude for PatriotsDecember 3, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
LINCOLN CITY — The Heritage Hills wrestling team enjoyed much success last season, placing third overall at sectional and four wrestlers winning individual titles. Nine wrestlers went to regional, three went to semi-state and graduated heavyweight Aidian Rea made it to the state meet. With everything the team accomplished, Patriots coach Adam Zollman hopes that has inspired a winning attitude that he said was not present when he took over the wrestling program last season.
“I think we learned how to win,” he said. “I hope we’re used to winning instead of being surprised when we win. Last year some of the kids felt like they were surprised that they won. I want them to expect to win and move on instead of (feeling), ‘Oh man, I did something I wasn’t supposed to do.’ So, I think we learned a lot.”
Zollman has a lot of new faces on the team that have little, if any experience. He doesn’t see that as a detriment for the Patriots’ season. Instead, he said the dynamic has taken him back to square one in a fun way where he gets to put in a lot of time breaking down techniques and getting everyone acclimated to the matts.
“We got a lot of new guys,” said Zollman. “Out of the 14 weight classes, 11 are raw so it’s going to be an interesting year. It brought me back to my first years of coaching. It’s very step by step. We get to do a whole lot more teaching. I’m having a good time.”
The Patriots have three sectional champions returning with seniors Sam Scott (120 pounds), Beau Heeke (132 pounds) and Phoenix Rodgers, who wrestled at 182 pounds last season but is moving up to 195 this year. Both Scott and Rodgers also advanced to semi-state last season. Braxton Hayes is also coming back at 113 pounds, where he finished third in sectional last year. Cole Neighbors (145 pounds) and Quintin Tempel, who is moving up to 160 after putting on some muscle in the offseason, are also coming back.
Zollman believes that aggression is key for the Patriots. Many of the teams the Patriots face will have wrestlers with more technical knowledge and mat experience, but Zollman thinks his inexperienced bunch can still give themselves a good shot to win if they can use a higher level of physical intensity to control the action on the mat.
“We’re not that team that just runs sprints, we get our conditioning in by wrestling,” he said. “These guys are starting to figure out the more aggressive I am, the better the opportunity I have to win. I have in their head once we touch somebody, we’re moving them. We’re dominating the pace of the match.”
Zollman can’t quite predict where the team will finish as a group, but he is confident the returning veterans can pick up where they left off and turn it up a notch during the winter. He also believes that the Patriots’ schedule is tailor-made to give the team the tough experience they’ll need during the season so they’ll be ready to get after it when the sectional tournament starts.
“Our schedule is tough,” said Zollman. “ And I keep trying to make it tougher so we can be battle-tested when it comes down to PACs (and) tournament time. It’ll be fun.”
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