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Athlete of the Week: North Hall's Mathew Glenn picking up where he left off after last season's state championship
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North Hall's Mathew Glenn sizes up his opponent during the 2017-2018 Class 3A GHSA state wrestling championships. - For The Times

Going into his individual state championship match to end last season, North Hall wrestler Mathew Glenn and his coach, David Nichols, made an agreement.

“I made a deal with him that if he won state, we would go buy matching tennis shoes,” Nichols said.

Glenn did win, so earlier this year he and his coach hit the Nike outlet store to upgrade their footwear, eventually opting for a matching set of gray Nike Air Max’s. So far this season, the new shoes have turned out to be somewhat of a lucky charm for Glenn. 

He hasn’t lost a match this year, going a perfect 12-0 individually, culminating in his dominant performance in Saturday’s Archer Invitational. Glenn easily dispatched his three opponents to take first at the 132-pound weight class, earning him honors as this week’s Times Athlete of the Week. 

Glenn said a renewed focus on keeping a high pace during matches is what led to his most recent victory.

“Just really going out, keeping up a high tempo, that’s one of the biggest things,” he added. “No one can really keep up with me, I feel. I’ve gained a lot of confidence over the summer on my feet.”

Glenn, now a senior and team captain for the Trojans, has come a long way since joining the program nearly four years earlier, also Nichols’ first season. Back then, Glenn weighed in at around 100 pounds, lighter than the lowest weight class high school competition offered. 

But Nichols said the young wrestler never let his size hold him back. 

“His freshman year, we knew we had something special with him,” the third-year coach said. “Every week, we would send him out there against really quality kids, and he would walk away with some quality wins over opponents.”

Glenn finished third individually at the state championship his freshmen season, and both he and Nichols knew he had the potential to finish even higher as his high school career progressed. 

Both were eventually proven right with Glenn’s state-title win earlier this year. 

“I think most of being where I am now is the work that I’ve put in,” Glenn said. “Getting bigger and getting stronger naturally, and just by lifting and all that helped, but I think the biggest part is the effort and the determination.”

Glenn has been a major contributor to North Hall’s recent success, which includes a Class 3A state championship as a team a season ago. 

And as much work as he’s put in on the mat, Glenn has been asked to help the team off it as an upperclassman and leader.

“Mathew really leads by example and setting the right tone for the other kids,” Nichols said. “He is the hardest worker in the room every day, and he’s also a great student and just really represents our program well.”

Team captain is a role Glenn has accepted with gusto, and one he takes seriously. Even when practice gets tough and “everybody’s just dying,” Glenn said staying optimistic and upbeat is always a priority. 

He enjoys helping other members of the team get through particularly difficult workouts. 

“(I) just give them a pat. Tell them ‘We’re gonna get through.’” He said. “Just really encourage them, letting them know what they’re doing well and what it’s going to be worth at the end.”

So what comes “at the end” for Glenn and his teammates?

For one, he hopes to win another individual state championship and finish his final season undefeated. But individual goals pale in comparison to team aspirations, according to Glenn. 

North Hall’s biggest competition this season will likely be Jefferson, a perennial state power in the Class 4A that dropped down to 3A after last season. Glenn said his most important focus is making sure the Dragons know that North Hall is still the team to beat in the 3A.

“That’s by far the biggest thing for us and the biggest thing for me,” he said. “I think the best way to end these four years would be just beating Jefferson, kind of putting them in their place and defending our title and showing them they’re not better than us, that we work harder than everyone.”

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