Updated Thu, Jan 24, 2013 2:17 pm
A key player in the Bobcats’ fortunes this season, Spartak Chino is yet another part of the young core of wrestlers on Ohio’s roster. Wrestling at 157 pounds for the Bobcats, Chino is off to great start this season. His successes have even landed him a ranking of No. 27 on the WrestlingReport.com NCAA Divison I Top 33.
Chino’s success should not come as a surprise, as even his high school career is very colorful. From Wheaton, Ill., the redshirt freshman attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School. It was there that Chino compiled 145 wins and just 15 losses. He qualified for the state wrestling tournament three times. At his trips to the state tournament he placed fifth twice, and he won states in his senior season.
The former Tiger looks back on his time at Wheaton highly and how it prepared him for college wrestling. He mentions gaining a lot of confidence in the fact his high school achievements drew attention from Ohio’s coaches.
“It’s something to motivate me and make me want to keep moving forward because if (the coaches) are going to invest in me then I want to do everything humanly possible to not let them down,” Chino said.
The drive that Chino displays is something that certainly kept him pushing through his redshirt season. As a redshirt, Chino accumulated a 19-8 record in open competition. He was runner up in the Simpson Open and Michigan State Tournaments.
On being a redshirt, Chino says, “It’s a really tough thing knowing that you’re talented enough but there’s still a lot of learning curves and stuff that you have to get through…it’s a very constructive year. I don’t think I would have the success last year that I am having this year.”
Now participating in full competition, Chino shows much enthusiasm in talking about the differences between a redshirt season and regular season. The 157-pounder appreciates the experience he gained last season and knows that his time spent as a redshirt was a great time to develop not only his body, but his mind as well.
“I felt like physically I could have competed last year but mentally I was too young. I wasn’t experienced enough and hadn’t had the matches (yet) that I (eventually did have) to really go through the whole grind of a season.”
Speaking on how it feels to be competing fully, Chino said, “It’s awesome. It’s what you dream of doing your whole life.” With a 15-9 record, his first regular season is going well.
Five of his wins came at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga. The two-day tournament that took place Jan. 1-2, is an event that stands head and shoulders above all other events the redshirt freshman participated in.
“I think for me that was a turning point in the season. I got to wrestle some of the top guys in the country, Chino said. “It was a realization for me that I belong here and even though I’m a red shirt freshman I do belong in this atmosphere.”
He did not just wrestle at the tournament; he wrestled well. With a sixth place finish, Chino recollects thinking, “I’m out here wrestling with the best guys – national champions wrestling right next to me. I am one of those guys now.”
Interestingly, Chino put another spin on his experience at The Scuffle, almost referring to it as relieving, saying, “You just get so caught up in the traveling, so caught up with the weight cutting and (prepping to face certain wrestlers). You just kind of forget who you are. It was nice remembering who I am and what I am capable of doing.”
When asked to describe what he does well, and who he is as a wrestler, Chino responded that his favorite position to wrestle is on his feet. That is where he is most comfortable and where he feels he can dominate his opponents and control his matches.
Known as “Sparty” amongst teammates, family and friends, Chino still looks to improve his game. He says that he could improve how he wrestles in the bottom position among other areas.
“An overall thing (to improve) is to keep on moving forward. If I’m down and a match isn’t going my way I have to keep pushing forward.”
The former Illinois State Champ is no doubt very happy with his accomplishments, but he continues to show a drive to better himself. Referring to his No. 27 rank he said, “It’s exciting. You see that as a kid and you look up to those wrestlers. Its confidence you know. But that’s not where I want to settle.”
Chino exudes maturity beyond his years. Age is not a factor for Ohio’s 157-pound wrestler. He even says that he does not feel like a freshman when he wrestles. He feels like a senior.
Along with maturity, confidence flows from Chino. Those two factors in combination with his talent and achievements thus far create quite a mixture that should propel “Sparty” to even greater heights.
“I’m just going to keep going into every match, it’s really exciting,” Chino said. “I want to keep going until I’m at the number one spot.”