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Benjamin Russell Wrestler Savon Spradley poses for photographs in the weight room at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City, Alabama, on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021 [Jake Arthur/ The Outlook]

No matter the endeavor, Savon Spradley is out to win.

It could be football, wrestling or baseball. It could be a family board game. It could be wiffle ball.

It shows itself in any competition the Benjamin Russell junior undertakes, but it’s especially apparent when the Wildcats’ wrestling team warms up for practice with a classic recreational sport.

“Savon, he is very competitive,” Benjamin Russell junior wrestler Jay Whetstone said. “Like even when we do warm-ups with dodgeball, he likes to win, he likes to be number one. And in the weight room, he likes to stand out, he likes to show he’s the strongest.”

Whetstone would know — he’s Spradley’s cousin. The pair have been close friends since age 6.

Spradley’s winning mentality is propelling forward into wrestling season, one he hopes to finish by placing at the state tournament.

“First of all, you can tell his maturity level, he’s way above kids at his age,” Benjamin Russell wrestling coach Michael Ransaw said. “He’s only a junior, but even as of last year, if you didn’t see it on the football field, you saw it in the wrestling room. He’s stepped up and his maturity level is above the others, which is going to make him a better person.”

Spradley is a Benjamin Russell legacy.

Ryan Spradley, his brother, may be the most accomplished athlete of the family thus far, taking home the 2019 AHSAA state championship at 160 pounds.

His father also wrestled for the Wildcats and played nose guard on the football team. Savon Spradley’s uncle played on one of Benjamin Russell’s state runner-up football teams near the turn of the 21st century.

“It means a lot,” Spradley said. “It’s fun to talk about it at family reunions, stuff like that.”

Spradley played football and baseball growing up, but only took up wrestling in the eighth grade.

“It was really just my decision, because I went to all my brother’s matches, and I was liking it, I was like, ‘I’m just fixing to try it out this year,’” Spradley said. “I’ve liked it ever since. It really just depends on how tough you can be. And you can’t blame anybody else, it’s just you and the other dude on the mat.”

It’s not just his mindset that has made him successful, however. Whether in football or wrestling, Spradley has taken a studious approach, learning the techniques of the sport and playing intelligent as well as aggressive.

“Savon over the years has become that one person that has said, ‘I want to learn all I can about the sport of wrestling, not just get in there and try it,’” Ransaw said. “He’s a competitor to the end, one that, even if he loses, he’s going to find out what mistakes he made and try to fix them.”

Vocal leadership is one trait that Spradley has had to develop as time has progressed.

His dedicated approach to practice, weight lifting and conditioning have been a constant example for younger athletes. But Ransaw has seen the typically soft-spoken junior turn up his volume as his role as a guide has increased.

“Savon’s very quiet. We’ve seen him come out of his shell a little bit over the past couple years and I think that’s because of the leadership roles that he’s had to take,” Ransaw said. “In football too, he had to step up in a hurry, he was thrown into a couple of positions over the past couple years that made him step up. But I’ve never had any problems with Savon. Savon continues to be the perfect role model as a student-athlete.” 

Leadership will be important this year for the Wildcats, who are hoping to capture their first state title since the 1980s. They’ve finished as the runners up for AHSAA Class 6A back-to-back years, and if they hope to clear that last hurdle, there’s younger players that will have to step up in lower weight classes, Spradley and Ransaw stated.

“My goal is to place at state this year, that’s top eight,” Spradley said. “But I want to be up there, up there. And as a team, we’ve been getting second, runner-up, stuff like that. I just want to win it.”

More aggression and better escapes from the bottom position will also be key for Spradley’s success, Ransaw added.

Benjamin Russell opened its season with a dual meet at Chelsea Nov. 20, and returned Dec. 3 for an invitational.

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