Wrestling this season at 165 pounds, Abrams goes into an upcoming busy three days leading all GMC wrestlers with a 21-1 record with 12 pins. He’s one win short of matching last season’s record, when he finished with a 22-10 record while switching between 160 and 170 pounds. He was named to the all-conference first team at 170 pounds and finished second at 160 pounds in the Division I sectional tournament before falling a couple of district tournament wins short of qualifying for the state tournament.
He suffered his only 2021-2022 loss in the mid-December Southwest Ohio Wrestling Coaches Association Classic to a highly regarded wrestler from Ryle High School in Kentucky. He finished third in his weight class and was named Fairfield’s Athlete of the Week for the holiday break.
“Lane is wrestling with a lot of confidence and determination,” Willcocks was quoted as saying on the high school athletics website. “We hope Lane keeps his momentum going.”
Abrams is a combined 43-11 since going 13-18 at 145 pounds as a sophomore. To Willcocks, that was a learning experience Abrams has put to good use.
“I think experience,” the coach said when asked the major difference between Abrams as a sophomore and today’s version. “As a senior, he’s been starting for us every year, and every year, he gets more varsity experience. We knew it was going to be hard. It was going to be tough, but he’s been gaining momentum and confidence. It’s all come together now.”
Abrams recalls starting to wrestle at 3 years old, literally following in the footsteps of his father, a Hamilton High School assistant.
“I was always around it as a kid,” he said Monday, shortly before practice.
“He’s been wrestling since he could walk,” Willcocks said. “Technically, he knows a lot of positions, and his experience allows him to get into those positions and has gotten him to where he is now.”
The only other sport he ever tried was football, but he believes wrestling gives him a good foundation for any other sport he felt inclined to play.
“I think it gives me the physical ability and the mentality to go push through with other sports,” he said.
Added to his approach is the motivation from, as a sophomore, finishing below .500 and not getting out of the sectional tournament to the district.
“I kind of used it as, like, ‘I know I’ve got to get better,’” he said. “I got into the weight room and practiced over the summer. Every time I thought about the losses and not making the district tournament, I used it to help generate momentum.”
Willcocks and Abrams agree that the senior has room for improvement in making the most out of working out of set positions, especially when he’s on the bottom.
“We always say bottom work or top work is where we always struggle,” Willcocks said. “Fairfield is known for wrestling on its feet. We feel like, if we can tighten up our bottom work, we can get (one point) all the time.”
“I know that, for sure, to get a one from the bottom, you need to be explosive and get to your feet,” Abrams added.
Abrams, who is undefeated against Ohio wrestlers, and the Indians will get plenty of chances to hone those skills over the next few days. They are scheduled to have a non-conference dual meet at Springboro on Thursday before participating in a GMC tri-match with Lakota West and Oak Hills at Fairfield on Saturday. Looming is the GMC tournament at Middletown on Feb. 5, but Abrams is looking at a bigger picture.
“I’m not even worried about the GMCs,” Abrams said. “I’m focused on getting as far as I can in the state tournament.”