Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – The wrestling career for West Branch senior Morgan Hartz has been marked by progress.
For three consecutive seasons Hartz has improved on the mat while increasing his individual win total.
After three straight seasons of steady improvement the breakthrough for Hartz appears to be on the horizon.
Hartz earned his second consecutive tournament title on Saturday when he won the 195-pound title at the Regina Invitational.
“I feel really good going into break, the best I’ve ever felt at this point,” Hartz said. “The last couple weeks of tournaments, getting first has been a real boost. I feel like I have really improved over the years.”
Hartz has been a solid piece in the West Branch lineup throughout his career.
He won 20 matches as a freshman and added a win to that total each of the next two seasons.
After finishing third at the sectional meet in each of his first two seasons Hartz advanced to the district meet for the first time a year ago.
As a senior he hopes to take things a step further and the key to that is continuing to do what Hartz has done throughout his career – improve.
“Over the years I’ve really improved on offense and on bottom,” Hartz said. “I have really improved my escapes. Jake Slocum, our new coach, has really helped me with that because he knew that’s where I struggled and that has really helped out.”
The improvement is evident this season.
Hartz is off to an 8-3 start after picking up a pair of wins on Saturday on his way to an individual title.
He went 3-0 while winning the Tipton Invitational on December 5.
“He has improved in a lot of areas and he continues to improve,” Slocum said. “His feet have really improved. He does exactly what I tell him to do on his feet and it shows.”
Hartz credits his continued improvement to Solcum and increased competition in the practice room – namely the addition of freshman 220-pounder Logan Wright.
“It helps having a guy like Logan that can help train me and make me better, we both make each other better and that really helps,” Hartz said. “It’s huge to have someone to train with. Senior year not having a lot of guys to wrestle my size it really helps out that Logan can step up and do that as a freshman.”
Wright joins Slocum as training partners for the 195-pound Hartz.
That daily practice competition has played a role in the strong starts for both Hartz and Wright who is 9-2 to open the season.
“We are pretty young and these guys are trying to prove themselves against each other so they go after it,” Slocum said. “It’s a battle every day. Morgan and Logan they push each other day. He hasn’t had big guys in the room so it works out perfect.”
The continued improvement from Hartz has been a part of a strong start to the season for the West Branch team.
West Branch won a pair of River Valley Conference dual meets on the same night for the first time since 2015 earlier this month and has competed well at tournaments.
“It’s really good to have a good team out this year,” Hartz said. “We have some newer guys but they have experience so we don’t have to start over with technique. We’ve had our ups and downs through a couple of meets but it’s looking really good.”