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Auburn's Sam Lindsey serves notice on the mat
Last season's two-and-out finish at the Washington State Mat Classic wrestling championships did not sit well with Auburn grappler Sam Lindsey.
"It wasn't a great showing," Lindsey said.
Rather than let his performance as a sophomore weigh on his mind during the offseason, however, Lindsey – now a junior – did something about it. He attended the J. Robinson Intensive Training Camp over the summer.
Lindsey, alongside teammates Drew Aplin and Bailey Minnar, attended the two-week camp, tooled to train wrestlers to combine the dedication, mental focus and physical toughness they'll need to compete at the highest level.
And one week into the prep wrestling season, the experience is already paying out dividends.
"It helped me a lot," Lindsey said. "It's all about mental toughness. When you're tired, pushing past that point, getting past that breaking point where normal people would give up and quit, you have to be able to get through it and keep pushing your muscles and tell yourself you're not tired."
In the Trojans' first three matches of the season – a double-dual against Puyallup and Rogers last week, and Saturday's Auburn Invite tourney – Lindsey distinguished himself by knocking off a pair of returning state 195-pound placers.
On Dec. 4, Lindsey snagged his first two wins of the season, notching a pin at the 2 minute, 51 second mark of Rogers' Hunter Hackney, before upsetting Puyallup senior Joseph Meyer – a fourth-place 4A state finisher at 195 last season – with a 5-3 decision.
"I knew coming in that [Meyer] was pretty strong," Lindsey said. "He's a big guy and took fourth at state last year. But I knew I wanted to compete, and I want to win it all. And I knew that to win it, I had to prove I can actually compete at the state level."
Lindsey followed up this past Saturday at the Auburn Invite, outscoring Vashon senior Preston Morris 5-3 in the finals. Morris finished second at 195 at last season's 1A state tourney.
Serving notice that he means to be a force to be reckoned with at 195 pounds this year, Lindsey – who entered the season unranked – said he is ready to take on all-comers.
"I'm just really looking forward," he said. "I'm not looking to the past. I don't care about old wins and losses. I'm just looking to beat the best."
And according to Auburn head coach Dennis Herren, there are great things ahead for Lindsey.
"With his high academic marks, concern for the well-being of his teammates and fierce work ethic, Sam is on his way to becoming a consummate Auburn wrestler," Herren said. "He is off to a great start because the pursuit of excellence has become his habit: in the classroom, in how he treats his peers and in his discipline upon the mat."
ALSO: Other Auburn grapplers earning placings at the Auburn Invite were: Drew Aplin, third-place at 113; Balteer Rana, third-place at 126; Jamison Glenn, fourth-place at 126; Sjon Snithily, third-place at 138; Jarrett Bishop, third-place at 152; Kolone Pedebone, second-place at 160; Bailey Minnar, fourth-place at 170; and Mario Luevano, second-place at 285.
For Auburn Riverside: Gabriel Tugade, fourth-place at 113; Jose Juarez, fourth-place at 152; Brayden Packer, fourth-place at 220; and Larkin Williams, third-place at 285.
Defending 4A runner-up Tahoma took home the team title at the invite.