In his 19th year as head coach, Lincoln’s Mike Crowder has experienced a lot of firsts in his last three seasons.
The Trojans won their first of three straight region titles. Then last year, they crowned their first state champ.
And, continuing today in the Capital City Classic a Chiles High, they’ll try to check another off their list.
“We’ve accomplished a lot here recently, but we’ve never won the one tournament we really want to win,” Crowder said of the Classic, one of the most presitgious tournaments over the years. “We’ve been second a couple of times, third a bunch, but we’ve never been first. I hope it’s finally our weekend.”
If 152-pound reigning state champ Tristan Sommer has anything to say about it, it will be.
Sommer, who enters the meet 17-0 on the season, said that he doesn’t plan on letting his final shot at a Capital City title slip away.
“This team can do it,” said Sommer, who became Lincoln’s first-ever state champ when he won the title last season. “We look strong this year, and this tournament is one of our goals. We’re ready.”
In Sommer’s case, he’s also ready to make history.
Should he stay on his current pace, the senior has a chance to finish his Trojan career as the most decorated wrestler to ever walk the halls. A win this weekend in the 152-pound weight class would give Sommer the most tournament championships (17) ever for a Lincoln wrestler — and that’s not the only record he has his eyes on.
“If I can keep wrestling strong, I have a chance to break the record for most victories in a career (154) and most in one season (48),” said Sommer, who already owns the school record for most consecutive wins with 32, a mark he broke earlier this season. “We have so many goals for this season, but I know we can accomplish them all, honestly.”
Crowder thinks Sommer, who the coach says has been a “team leader since he was a freshman,” won’t have a problem cementing himself as a Lincoln wrestling legend by the time it’s all said and done.
“He can’t see the improvement he’s made, but I can. He’s so much better than last year it’s not even close. Way, way better,” Crowder said of Sommer.
“He’s scrambling and moving so much better than he did a year ago. And he did a lot of work this offseason, traveling to tournaments in Virginia and South Carolina and all over. He won some — beat some guys ranked nationally — but he lost a few. Although, what it told him was, ‘Hey, I’m one of the best in Florida and now I know I can hang with everyone else out there.’
“He’s just really wrestling tough right now.”
Sommer, however, won’t be the only Trojan to watch this weekend. Crowder said he has several guys — including junior Jacob Geiger (113 pounds), junior Brandon Johnson (182) and Jaycie Rudd (160) — who could be on the verge of a breakout performance. Geiger, like Sommer, is also unbeaten and enters 16-0, while Johnson and Rudd, a transfer student from Missouri, “are wrestling as good as anyone right now,” Crowder said.
“It’s a tough tournament to win. There’s just great wrestlers from all over who come to this thing,” the coach added. “But we feel good about where this program is headed right now and our chances to (finally win it). We’ve broken the seal, so to speak, these last few years with three straight region titles and a state champ. And I think it’s showing the kids what we are capable of accomplishing.”