Most fans of Seneca High School athletics probably last saw senior athlete Tommy Lovett limping gingerly off the football field. This after the Fighting Irish made a strong playoff push that ended with a 36-27 loss in the third round of the playoff to Aurora Christian.
A banged up and late-arriving addition to a wrestling team is not usually a key to success.
“It’s kind of rough. It makes it hard to transition between the two sports, especially with an injury,” Lovett said. “This sport is way different than football. This is a sport where you have to use every single one of your muscles and you have to [wrestle] hard for a six-minute burst. It’s been pretty rough but it’s just something that I’ve had to deal with.”
However, anyone that has seen Lovett wrestle for the Irish since the end of football may never know how hurt he really was as he started the season 6-0.
“I feel pretty good. Close to 100 percent,” Lovett said. “I still have to get my conditioning up but I feel I’ll be there in no time.”
Seneca wrestling coach Todd Yegge said the quick recovery time is pretty remarkable.
“He basically just starting practicing a week ago. So he’s really just started getting going,” Yegge said. “Tommy is a heck of an athlete, but he is just now getting his wind. He’s coming in being conditioned for football, which is more of a banging conditioning. Getting started into the wrestling season, we have to get that respiratory conditioning going. He is a little bit behind there, but he will get there.”
Lovett said he’s been concentrating on two areas since trading in his football pads for a Seneca singlet.
“Right now I’ve been working on my conditioning and technique,” Lovett said. “If I can get my technique perfect, I know I’ll be in the state series in no time.”
A state series that Lovett is familiar with having reached the Class 1A finals as a sophomore but failing to make the cut to Champaign as a junior. Yegge said he thinks that has served as ample motivation for Lovett.
“I would hope that would dive a kid. I’m sure it does with Tommy,” Yegge said. “He’s a great athlete and I think as a senior he’s got to step up. He’s got to work twice as hard. You know that he has certain goals right now that he wants to achieve. I think not making state last year was a hard thing for him to swallow, especially after making it as a sophomore. He was ranked highly most of last season and he just didn’t get it done at the sectional. That has to drive him. I can’t image that he doesn’t want to make amends from last year.”
Lovett is currently ranked seventh by Illinoismatmen.com at 160 pounds – his junior year weight – but Yegge said he’ll wrestle at a much higher weight than that by the time all is said and done.
“We’re wrestling him up to a  weight a lot right now. He’s weighing in at a light 182. He’s comfortable there,” Yegge said. “He is a light 182, but I don’t think that matters to him. He just wants to get in great shape, to feel good all year, not cut weight and see what he can do at the state level.”
Something Lovett is chomping at the bit to see happen again.
“It’s my senior year and it’s time to make it happen,” Lovett concluded. “It’s my last year in high school athletics and I’m striving to succeed.”