Senior Spotlight: Spencer Trenary, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament


Senior Spotlight: Spencer Trenary, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows

When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?

I started going to wrestling practice around kindergarten at the school club, they handed out sign up sheets at the school and for whatever reason it caught my interest.

Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?

No one else in my family competed in wrestling before me, but my dad has been adjacent to the sport for a long time. In college he was friends with Tommy Mashek and a lot of the other wrestlers at BVU. He also followed the careers of some family friends, so I think he always had interest in the sport and wanted me to experience it as well.

Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?

I would argue that increasing my wrestling ability continues to be a very gradual process.

What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

I bounced around quite a bit. I started at Little Warriors in Pocahontas and then Wildcat Youth at Humboldt in second grade before I started going to Team Valley in Clarion in fifth grade. They were all good, you get out what you put in, but obviously my experience with Valley has been very positive because Carl Valley is an amazing coach and I could find great partners in the room.

What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?

I have never wrestled a match not at heavyweight so when I was really little,  I remember going to a ton of local tournaments where there wouldn’t be anybody at my weight class. This meant I had to wrestle up an age division pretty often which is always intimidating, even if you’re eight and the other guy is ten. More specifically, I remember a lot of the big tournaments, AAU, Duals, and Nationals. Some specific memories that stick out are the AAU Elementary Duals in Tennessee during 4th and 5th grade. First,  it’s a 16 hour bus ride there with elementary age kids so it’s basically anarchy on wheels. Second, looking back, it’s crazy how many of the top guys in the state were on the roster, a lot of them have been very successful for a very long time.

How did you finish at state tournaments in youth?

I always have to preemptively put an asterisk next to my youth wrestling, everyone knows that heavyweight brackets aren’t big so by virtue of going to the state tournament you’re going to place. With that in mind, I was a finalist from 2nd grade forward except for my 7th grade year, but like I said that’s with a lot of small brackets from 6th grade on down.  Regardless of the weight class, I had three titles; still felt a lot of pride in being the best heavyweight there.

What are some of your more memorable moments from high school wrestling?

I definitely enjoyed spending a lot of time with my teammates, you can’t help but make some memories when you’re around the same group for that long. I think the most memorable times were just hanging out in hotel rooms for overnight tournaments.

How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level? 

7th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st. I wrestled McConkey (Atlantic) every time except for senior year. 

Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?

I don’t think that I’ve ever had any heroes really, I certainly look up to and value my coaches but I wouldn’t call them heroes. I’m mainly motivated by myself, I enjoy wrestling and doing well is the best way to continue to do it.

Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making huge strides?

I would say right around the time I hit puberty, my strength in the weight room actually started to be apparent to wrestling guys. This was also the point when I started beating my dad when he’d go with me, he stopped doing that shortly thereafter.

Who were some of your toughest competitors in HS? 

I had plenty of good competition during my high school career. I’d say Cooper Lawson and John McConkey were two guys that always seemed to have my number. 2A Heavyweight has also been a tough bracket every year at the state tournament, there was always at least one nationally ranked guy in the bracket. We never competed in a dual or tournament, but wrestling Troy “Moose” Monahan and Andrew Snyder definitely resulted in some really hard practices. They were the only two big high school guys who would make the drive to Valley and  I’m infinitely grateful for how they’ve helped me progress.

What are your wrestling goals now that you are moving on from high school? 

Now that I’m moving on to the next stage of wrestling, I want to make sure that I find a good balance between it and my education. I’m going to work to be successful on the mat and improve on what I’ve already accomplished but I know this should not come at the cost of my future life and career.

How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?

I would say my wrestling style is underhook wrestling because everything I do is working to get control of that position. I don’t want to lower him to my level, but I’d say my closest comparison would be to Adam Coon because we’re both taller guys looking for a good lock to score.

Do you have any regrets from wrestling or did you leave it all out there?

Obviously I would have preferred to win three state titles, it would have been pretty nice. However, I can’t pretend that it keeps me up at night. It’s the past and I should have wrestled better if I wanted better results. Outside of competition, I should have been more outgoing. The relationships and memories are the only things you get to take with you so I would have liked to have made more.

What other sports do you play and how have you done at them? 

I put all of my chips into wrestling, I enjoy the training the most, the feeling of winning beats everything else, and I will never be good at basketball. I was playing football in middle school and I hurt my knee, it kept me out of Preseason Nationals and I decided to only wrestle following that.

What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling?

During the school year, I manage to stay pretty busy with homework, practice, and lifting. Besides that, I really just stayed glued to my phone and computer.

What is some of the best advice you ever received? 

I’m not the kind of guy that’s big on quotes or advice, obviously whoever showed me how to underhook deserves all of my gratitude.

Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers? 

I’m probably the wrong guy to ask, I’ve got a pretty narrow perspective as a life long heavyweight with an underhook, but I guess it would be to find your niche. It’s good to know a lot of moves so you can recognize what’s going on but ultimately you’re only as good as what you hit in the match so you need to make sure your go to’s are solid before you start going for variety and options.

You have succeeded at every level including the national level, in which you have even won a coveted Fargo championship. However, the most excited that I have ever seen you was undoubtedly when you finally sealed the deal and won state as a Senior... Was that the most excited you have ever been after a victory? Describe what was going through your mind after you officially won state. 

It’s tough for me to pick between state finals and Fargo Cadet Greco, both were incredible but the environment for finals is just so intense. The closest emotion to what I was feeling after the pin was relief. I think I was relieved for a couple reasons. First, before the match my dad had texted me, “If you don't get pinned, you win,” which is true but not exactly constructive advice so I guess I was relieved that I had kept everything under control. Second, I think I also felt relieved because my high school career had ended with something that really validated all the time and effort I put into the sport. I guess I was so relieved that I completely forgot what I planned to do. Prior to the match I had decided that if I won I wasn’t going to celebrate at all, and clearly that didn’t happen.

What is your favorite style of wrestling? Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco?

Right now I’d have to say Greco, not because my style varies greatly between any of them but due to the fact refs actually force the other guys to present which lets me use my locks a lot more often than in Folkstyle.

Your parents have always been so supportive and proud of you in terms of how you have done on the mat as well as the nice, intelligent and all-around great kid you are off the mat. How much has it meant to you to make your family as proud as they are of you? 

Realistically, I’m able to take the unconditional support my parents give me for granted by virtue of how great they are. If I gave up wrestling tomorrow, they’d  love me exactly the same which really helps keeps things centered and takes a lot of pressure off which lets me focus more on what I’m doing rather than how the results will affect me.

Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with?

There are a lot of people that have helped contribute to my success. Luke Satern was my club coach in Humboldt, I think he helped me a lot with positioning. Dan Gabrielson and Jordon McLaughlin helped me enormously during the high school season, Dan helped me build a lot of confidence and develop a stronger mindset and Jordon rolled with me everyday and forced me to improve by making me eat the mat for the three years. Obviously, Carl Valley is the keystone to everything I do in wrestling, he’s just able to understand what I do, pick it apart, and explain to me how to modify it so perfectly that I wouldn’t be near where I am today without him.

What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future whether it be competing or coaching?

As far as wrestling in college is concerned, I want to be fully committed to it. I think that if I take enough of the opportunities presented to me, I can be very successful and really enjoy my college career. I don’t have any plans to continue competing after college but I would like to coach. It would be pretty selfish for me to take all of this help and give nothing back to the sport.

What is the future outlook for CGD wrestling?

I think the potential is there for them to stay very good for a very long time. All the amenities are there for success, Dan Gabrielson and the rest of the coaching staff are great about getting guys in a position to help the team and Team Valley is right there to help those who are committed to raising the bar. So long as they can keep their numbers good enough and a few guys stick to training in the offseason, I see no reason why they can’t continue to do well.