Collins Hill's Rickman seeks elusive state wrestling title



Spencer Rickman has been one of the state's top wrestlers the last two years.

The only problem is the Collins Hill junior hasn't been the best wrestler in his weight class.

Rickman has been runner-up at the traditional state tournament the last two years. He's felt the excitement of being in the state finals, but also the disappointment of losing. Not only once, but twice.

Rickman is trying to change that around this year.

"I'm looking to win that state title," Rickman said.

Rickman appeared to be on track to win his first state title last season. He traveled the country with Collins Hill, beating some of the nation's top wrestlers. He posted a 40-10 record with 28 pins and claimed region and state sectional championships.

Rickman reached the 130-pound state finals against Etowah's Jeremiah Lutz and saw his hopes of a state crown slip away in the final 30 seconds. Lutz put Rickman in a cradle to pull off a 5-0 win.

"He has all the experience and talent," Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen said. "He's hungry for it. He just has to put it all together."

Last season's loss was a year after falling in overtime to Collins Hill's Bazell Partridge in the state finals as a freshman at Harrison. Rickman transferred last season and joined the Eagles where his drill partner was Partridge.

"As a freshman, I didn't have the experience," Rickman said. "Now I've been there, I've done that. I'm ready to win it."

Rickman has always been a successful wrestler. He's reached the state finals every year of his career. He won four kids state titles before getting to high school.

"He's had some tough go's at the finals," Stephen said. "He could be potentially going for his third (high school) state title instead of his first."

Right after Rickman's loss last season, he put more of an emphasis on getting stronger. He's always had the technique to be a dominant wrestler, he's just lacked strength.

Rickman wakes up at 4 a.m. every weekday to drive to Snellville where he trains with Tyrone 'Ropeman' Felder, the ex-training parter of former Mr. Olympia Lee Haney and a trainer for professional athletes.

Rickman then drives to school, goes through a two-hour practice and goes home. He's not done there, though. He'll do 1,000 pushups before going to bed at 9 p.m.

"I want that state title bad," Rickman said.

Rickman said he can already notice a difference in his strength. He's added 45 pounds to his bench press, which is up to 235 pounds.

"I feel like I've gotten 10 times stronger," Rickman said. "I've always been a technical wrestler, I've just been missing the strength."

The added strength should help as Collins Hill, which is ranked No. 24 in the nation, goes through a grueling schedule again. The Eagles will wrestle some of the nation's best programs at the Ironman Invitational (Ohio), Midwest Classic (Mo.), PowerAde Invitational (Pa.), Cheesehead Invitational (Wis.) and Final Four Duals (Pa.).

But the biggest tournament on Rickman's mind is the state meet. There's a chance Lutz could be in the same weight class again this year. Rickman wouldn't mind a rematch, but if he doesn't he just wants to finally get that state championship.

"I hope he can come through and win a state title and get that monkey off his back," Stephen said.