HOBART | Scottie Sopko is different.
In wrestling, a sport that requires a certain amount of routine, maintaining weight and attention to detail, the Hobart sophomore has his own way of operating.
"He's a free spirit," coach Steve Balash said. "Some guys are more regimented and he's not. He works hard in the weight room and in the wrestling room, but he just sort of has a mind of his own."
Sopko is 19-1 on the season, his only loss coming when he was spladled by Peru's Kane Rockenbaugh at the Al Smith Invitational. Sopko clawed his way back in that tournament, though, and avenged the loss with a 9-0 major decision over Rockenbaugh.
"I got to wrestle three more matches and meet him in the finals. I got to beat up on him, so that felt good," Sopko said. "It's okay to have a loss under your belt. It's not the end of the world."
Some wrestlers work up an animosity for opponents. Sopko is often seen joking and socializing with with the other team after matches.
"Nothing seems to really bother him on the mat," Balash said. "He just goes out there and does his job. No matter what position he gets in, he feels comfortable in it."
Sopko sits at No. 8 in Indiana in the Panko Strength and Speed rankings for 170-pounders. He's got a middle school state championship, but not yet a high school one. He finished eighth at state last season as a freshman.
"Wrestling under the lights and winning a state title with all those people there would be something that I haven't experienced in high school and I'd really like to," Sopko said. "That's my goal and that's what I work for."
The Brickie grappler is still growing as an athlete, though. Right now, Sopko excels from the bottom, getting takedowns and winning on points, but he's working on becoming a three-position wrestler and getting a few more pins.
"I try to be confident, but not cocky," Sopko said. "When I step on the mat, I'm trying to go out there and dominate."