Male Athlete of the Year: Hartmann leaves a legacy of excellence

South Kitsap High School’s Conner Hartmann compiled a 38-0 record en route to a Class 4A state wrestling championship at 189 pounds as a senior. He signed with Duke University.  - File photo
South Kitsap High School’s Conner Hartmann compiled a 38-0 record en route to a Class 4A state wrestling championship at 189 pounds as a senior. He signed with Duke University.
— image credit: File photo

Past recipients
2010: Gordy Anderson
2009: Leon La Deaux
2008: Matt Foxworthy
2007: Renard Williams
2006: Brent Chriswell, Josiah Kipperberg
2005: Brent Chriswell
2004: Pat Kelly

He is the first to acknowledge that there are more talented wrestlers in the region.

But few had as dominant of a senior year as South Kitsap’s Conner Hartmann.

In addition to a 38-0 record and a Class 4A state championship at 189 pounds, Hartmann maintained a 3.944 grade-point average.

For those reasons, he was selected as the Port Orchard Independent’s Male Athlete of the Year.

“It’s a huge honor,” Hartmann said. “To see other people appreciate some of the stuff I do, that’s pretty awesome.”

Wolves coach Chad Nass, who won a state title at 141 for South in 1992, credited Hartmann’s character and work ethic for his success.

“He’s a model athlete that you want to have in your program,” Nass said. “He sets the standard.”

Hartmann and teammate Terrill Wilson (119) became the school’s first state champions in five years. But Hartmann’s ascension to an elite wrestler began much earlier.

He vividly remembers watching in the Tacoma Dome three years earlier the last time the Wolves featured a competitor who had a perfect regular season. Matt Foxworthy, who regularly pinned opponents in fewer than 10 seconds, dominated his competition in a different manner than Hartmann. But Foxworthy was unable to overwhelm his opponent, Central Valley’s Tyler Cochran, who scored a reversal in overtime to win a 6-4 decision.

The outcome resinated with Hartmann. He said some wondered whether Foxworthy prepared hard enough during the regular season, and never wanted anyone to question his dedication.

“I wasn’t the most athletic person,” Hartmann said. “I was told that you can make up for what you don’t have through a lot of hard work.”

Similar to Foxworthy, who placed third as a junior, Hartmann was not a defending state champion. He finished second after losing a 5-2 decision against Auburn’s Dylan Rutledge at 171. And while Hartmann, who finished with a 38-0 record and pinned 31 opponents, rarely dominates competition with quick pins, he prides himself on being as tactically sound as possible.

Hartmann said he spent last summer doing freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling to improve his skills.

“I became more comfortable with takedowns,” he said. “You have to fix things and become more confident.”

The result was Hartmann and Wilson becoming the 13th and 14th names added as state champions on the beige wall at Maguire Wolf Den. Nass, who coached Brent Chriswell to consecutive state titles in 2005-06, said Hartmann “had as dominant of a senior season as any kid I’ve coached.”

Hartmann also will be the first South graduate to suit up for a major university since Chriswell signed with Purdue. He will wrestle at Duke.

In addition to the university’s academic standing — U.S. News & World Report ranks it ninth nationally — Hartmann, who plans to major in economics, said he was impressed with Blue Devils coach Clar Anderson. Hartmann said Anderson acknowledged that Duke does not have an elite wrestling program, but feels this recruiting class could get the school to that point.

While Hartmann anticipates redshirting this season to add strength as he transitions to the 197-weight class, he is preparing in case he is needed immediately. Hartmann is participating in a camp this week at Duke. He will return home and then leave again Aug. 23 for Durham, N.C., before classes begin.

He said it might not have been possible without his mother, Corinna. Hartmann said he and his brother, Tristan, who will be a sophomore this year at South, frequently fought when he was 5 years old.

“She mostly was tired of having me and my little brother fight all of the time,” he said. “She wanted me to use my energy in a more productive way.”

Productive would be an apt description of his three years with the Wolves. The 5-foot-11 Hartmann finished with a 113-15 record at the school.

“I hope the kids that were with me remember that,” he said. “You don’t have to be incredibly talented. You can work hard and persevere.”

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