The name Dow has become a staple in the Redwood wrestling world over the past few years. Perhaps this is due to the success of junior Spencer Dow, or maybe it is because of the success of Spencer’s older brother, Riley, who placed second in NCS as a senior last year and continued on to compete in the state championships.
The younger Dow is working hard to exceed the achievements of his brother, and thus far succeeded in living up to his family name.
“At one point I started to question whether I was wrestling for my brother or for me,” Spencer said. “But I realized that I love the sport, and while there is pressure for him, I don’t want to let him down, I don’t want to let my coach down, and I don’t want to let myself down. I do feel like there are these expectations of me, but I’m trying to embrace it and let that motivate me.”
According to senior captain Simon Ermolov, Spencer has looked up to Riley since he began wrestling, and their similar personality traits shine through in both the practice room and at the meets.
“They have this ‘Dow’ personality where they challenge everything and have constant debates over everything, and the flip side to that is that they’re both some of the most amazing young men in the wrestling room, outside the wrestling room and in the community,” said wrestling coach Lochlan McHale, who has coached Spencer in the offseason at Brawlers Wrestling Club since the end of his freshman year and this year at Redwood.
However, both McHale and Ermolov were able to address that the two brothers have different presences on the team.
“I think Riley was much more calm, tame and sort of like a peaceful captain, while Spencer is more chaotic, and there’s more excitement in him, and he’s always bouncy,” Ermolov said.
According to Spencer, he was first interested in wrestling after attending Riley’s tournaments and practices in middle school. He truly became passionate about the sp
ort, and more competitive with his brother, when he joined the Redwood team as a freshman.
“[Wrestling] is definitely something that I’m passionate about now, but there’s also some family competition,” Spencer said. “I want to be better than him. He went to state his senior year, so I’m looking to place top five at NCS this year, and the best possible outcome this year would be going to state.”
According to Spencer, Riley continues to motivate him even though his wrestling career is over. Riley is currently on a gap year and will be attending Northwestern next year. However, Spencer said that the pressure to be better than Riley continues to be overwhelming.
McHale also hopes to motivate Spencer through the family name’s expectations.
“His brother is very open about how he waited too long to take wrestling seriously.” McHale said. “So one of the challenges I put out there for Spencer is to be greater than his brother, so that he has a good junior year and a good senior year. So I think in that sense he has matured a lot and he has been able to wrestle with our current set of seniors.”
After Spencer’s success on JV last year with an impressive 20 wins and 2 losses, McHale began coaching at Redwood in hopes of utilizing a lineup that has what he described as a “sleeper.”
“I knew about him, we all knew about him, but the rest of NCS didn’t really know about him, and he had an amazing JV season, and then he worked in the offseason and I knew he was going to come in battling this year,” McHale said. “And it has shown, he has walked away with two golds, and a few other things. And his work ethic is surely where his brother was his senior year, while he is in his junior year.”
Spencer said that he has seen great improvement from his freshman year. Throughout his three seasons at Redwood and the offseason practices he attends, Spencer has developed a plethora of skills and techniques that have led him to multiple tournament victories and a solid standing in NCS this season.
With a height of six feet, one inch, Spencer uses his size as an advantage, and bases many of his moves off of this attribute. Ermolov said that Dow uses similar techniques to those of his brother, utilizing his length and long fingers to get a good grip.
According to Spencer, McHale’s offensive style has made a positive impact on his performance this year.
“[McHale] has a totally different style than our last coach. He’s really aggressive and in your face. He loves cardio so we run a ton, and I think that has really benefited my running, just being more aggressive, and I’m better from neutral, which is like standing-up wrestling,” Spencer said. “I’ve gotten a lot more confidence from his style of wrestling, and I’m taking more shots now.”
In the practice room, Spencer said that he acts as a leader to many of his fellow teammates, as he hopes to keep the team motivated.
“I think from the beginning he’s always been sort of like the cheerleader of the team. So when other teammates are wrestling he would be the guy at the corner yelling and screaming and cheering,” Ermolov said. “He should be a leader. He supports everyone, he cheers everyone on, he has good energy, so I think when he does become captain, all of those will help him to be the best.”