STAPLETON, Neb. (KNOP) - When Seth Simants started wrestling in ninth grade, he did not enjoy the sport, he only did it because his father wanted him to.
After a sixth place finish at state that year, Simants saw potential in the sport. He did not wrestle at state his sophomore, because his older brother was wrestling the same weight class at Stapleton that year.
At the end of his sophomore year, Simants tore his labrum, and was unable to participate in any wrestling activities for six months, and had to wear a shoulder brace over the summer.
"He was working just as hard in the off-season. How do you make yourself better even though you have a road block?" said Jason Wehnes, Simants' wrestling coach at Stapleton.
His junior year Simants wrestled after that injury... he finished fourth at state.
"Having that confidence, that everything was alright and not worrying about it, that's really tough for a kid after having surgery," Wehnes said.
Over their four years together, Wehnes has seen Simants become more mentally tough.
"I remember freshman year, it was really tough, he took every loss personally. Just growing and becoming more mentally tough over the years, that's probably the biggest thing," Wehnes said of Simants, adding, "I like that he doesn't quit. I'll be honest, there are times seeing him out there, but he's always in a match no matter what. He doesn't want to stop, he wants to keep going and so there's just no quit in the kid."
In his senior season, Simants is 35-2, with both losses coming to a defending state champion. He is the top ranked Class D 160 weight class wrestler, according to Nebraska Wrestle.
He is not often behind in a match, but when he is, he knows he has to stick to his game plan.
"My mindset is I have to do my pace, it's my match I have to keep my pace, just wrestle how I know to wrestle. I just go out there and do what I know how to do," Simants said, adding, "don't worry about anything else, just know I can come back. If I am down, I've just gotta work harder than him."
The Stapleton wrestling team consists of four wrestlers, including Simants. Some of the other wrestlers don't have any experience with wrestling prior to this year.
"They don't have any experience. He has patience with those kids, he wants to help them learn, and he wants to help them enjoy the sport," Wehnes said.
When asked about a memory of Simants that reflects who he is most, Wehnes recalled his freshman year at state. Simants was caught in on the ground in a double wing. For some wrestlers, they would have accepted defeat and taken the pin. While Simants would eventually succumb to the pin, but put up a fight in the loss. Any time his shoulders would come close to touching the mat, he would flail his torso to delay the pin as long as he could.
"I was there thinking, man, it's okay, just stop, don't injure yourself over this; but he doesn't have a quit," Wehnes said.
During the summer of 2018, Simants wrestled in the 152 weight class at AAU state. He finished first, which qualified him for the Florida Disney dual team.
"That was a great experience, there were a lot of tough kids there," Simants said.
Simants has one outlook on this season, "This year I plan on being a state champion," he said, matter-of-factly.
As for his future, Simants says he wants to wrestle in college, and has some college visits coming up, but he is focused on state first, and he will make those visits afterwards.