FACTORYVILLE — Lackawanna Trail wrestler Trent Phillips is off to a good start this season.
He’s won 14 of his first 16 matches, including a title in the Lackawanna League Tournament, and a second place finish at the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament in the 195-pound weight class.
Despite the early success, Lions head coach Keith Youtz believes the senior has even more potential.
“I think Trent has gotten a lot better technique-wise,” Youtz said. “He gets into the practice room and really wrestles open, but he still has a tendency to get out on the mat and play more defensive during matches.
“Usually through experience, kids get out there and just let it go and hopefully he’s going to do that. We’ve seen him do it once in a while during matches where he takes a couple nice shots. When he opens up, he’s tough.”
Phillips advanced to the North East 2A Regional Tournament during his sophomore season, but lost his first two matches and was eliminated. He was unable to qualify for regionals last season, placing fifth in the District 2 Class 2A Tournament.
Youtz feels Phillips has the ability to not only make a return trip to regionals this year, but also advance to the state tournament in Hershey.
“If he can open up, I could possibly see him go to states,” Youtz said. “Hopefully, by the end of the year, he will be relaxed and not worry about anything and just let everything go. It just might work for him because he’s looked great against some really good wrestlers.”
Phillips, who has eight wins by pinfall, has learned a lot of valuable skills from Youtz and the rest of the coaching staff.
“Coach Youtz is still teaching me things I’ve never even heard of before,” Phillips said. “He’s shown me a lot of different techniques and assistant coaches Ethan and Adam Johnson have really helped me during matches.
“I feel like I’ve expanded a lot more in the neutral position. It’s the area where I score a lot of my points.”
As a veteran of the team, Phillips has taken on a leadership role and has tried to help the younger wrestlers whenever possible.
“A lot of the kids on the team are new to the sport and don’t really know much,” he said. “It’s a lot of just teaching them the basics. If I see them taking a shot wrong or doing a move incorrectly, I tried to teach and guide them through it.”
Phillips, who was also a member of the Lions’ football team, believes the mentality needed to succeed on the gridiron has helped him in tough wrestling matches.
“They are both very physically and mentally demanding sports,” he said. “In football, you’re going out and playing and front of tons of people and in wrestling you’re by yourself on the mat.”
Phillips and the Lions will return to the mats during the Lackawanna Trail Duals at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16 in Factoryville.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.