Three years ago to the day, the Spanish Springs High School gymnasium was packed to capacity. Wrestling fans could feel the electricity in the air as a Spanish Springs freshman stepped onto the mat with hopes of leading the local squad to its first regional crown.
The Cougars put their Northern 4A regional championship hopes on the shoulders of their smallest wrestler. Curtis Lampert, the team’s 103-pounder, set the tone for the day as the freshman earned a first-round pin and fired up the home crowd and his teammates.
Lampert then went on to easily win a state championship, capping a 51-4 campaign at 103 pounds in his first varsity season. He was barely threatened as he combined to win his first two matches at state by a 26-9 score before a third-round pin over Sean Miller of Foothill gave him the state title.
Lampert won a second straight regional crown at 103 pounds in his sophomore year, but he hasn’t been on the top of the podium at regionals or state since then.
As a junior, he moved up to the 119-pound weight class and he couldn’t have come up any closer, losing in both the regional and state championship matches.
Now in his senior season, Lampert is looking to feel that state championship excitement again after missing out the past two seasons.
“It really means a lot to finish the way I started,” Lampert said. “It really is a motivation, just improving. Sophomore year I got third. Last year I was second. This year I want first.”
Lampert is having another successful season. The Cougars senior is wrestling at 120 pounds and has accumulated a 26-5 record with his losses coming to ranked wrestlers from out of state.
He also broke 2010 graduate Todd Pearson’s school record for career wins, currently sitting on 176 victories.
If Lampert wins this weekend’s regional championship at Carson High, he becomes Spanish Springs’ second three-time regional champ along with Pearson. Pearson was part of the school’s first two Northern 4A team championships, finishing his career as the 119-pound champ.
But Lampert has the opportunity to be part of four consecutive team titles.
“That would just be amazing. It would just show how hard we all work,” Lampert said.
His coach expects Lampert to be up on the podium the next two weekends, much like he has the past three seasons.
“He’s been wrestling real tough for us. He’s done well in the state of Nevada. Overall, I think his season has been very productive,” SSHS wrestling coach Joe Imelli said. “I expect he will go out and finish his career the way he wants to and the way he came in, vying for a state title. Anything less than him shooting for that, would be a shame. He’s a good a wrestler, and his mentality is that he should be standing on the top of the podium. I agree with him. He’s got the skills, and he’s got two more weeks to finish out his high school career the same way he started. That’s as a state champion.”
Pearson was another wrestler who made a big splash from his first year on. Pearson was the wrestling program’s first freshman to win a regional championship. Lampert was the second.
While it hasn’t always been easy coaching a wrestler who entered high school with a full wrestling repertoire, Imelli does appreciate what Lampert has offered to the team.
“As far as how he does things, it’s been good for the other kids to see how he does things,” Imelli said. “The way he prepares himself and how he acts at matches. When he’s mentally on his game, the swagger he carries, you want that from everybody. He has a great focus on getting the job done. That’s one of the nice things he’s added. When he’s mentally right, he’s fun to watch and fun to be around.”
Imelli believes Lampert has the skills to wrestle in college and several coaches have expressed interest. However, Lampert’s ideal plans don’t include wrestling after high school. He wants to join the Air Force like his father and continue the family tradition of serving in the military. His grandfather served in the Army.
That’s why he’s enjoying his last season and soaking it all in.
“It’s a blast. It really is. Just getting to be around all your friends and people who are working as hard as you are to achieve the goals they set for themselves,” Lampert said.