Two Hillsboro Middle School wrestlers finished in the top three and the team finished in the top 10 out of 120 schools last Saturday at the OHWAY State Wrestling Tournament held at the Marion County Fairgrounds.
Hillsboro had five qualifiers after competing at the Southwest Regional in Wilmington earlier this month.
Leading the way at the state tournament was Mathias Hostetler at 167 pounds finishing as the OHWAY state runner-up, falling in the finals to Miami Trace foe Tyler Stevens. Mathias was also an OAC state qualifier.
Jahari Pitts and John Deans both wrestled in the 212 pound weight class. As they did all year, they battled their way to the podium together. Pitts finished the day in third place and Deans finished fifth.
Also representing Hillsboro were Brody Armintrout at 112 pounds and Collin Swackhamer at 132 pounds.
“I was impressed with the fight in these guys all year. Brody and Collin were both new to wrestling this year and show a ton of promise. Both of them have stuck with the process and really showed that they belong on the wrestling mat,” Hillsboro Middle School Wrestling Coach Scott Eastes said. “I expect to see these boys wrestling in big matches throughout their career.
“Mathias and Jahari have been leaders in the room all year and I can’t say enough about their hard work and leadership. These guys come to fight every day. They were both FAC conference champions and have won a lot of matches for us. I’m excited to watch them in high school next year.”
Eastes said that probably the most pleasant surprise of the year has been Deans.
”This is a guy that had a really tough seventh grade season last year and struggled to put things together. He came into the room this year determined to find success,” Eastes said. “We asked him to wrestle heavyweight at times and stand toe to toe with Jahari at practice every day. He never complained. He just came in every day and laced up his shoes and went to work. In the process, he put together a great season, placing in every tournament that we took him to including runner-up at the FAC tournament. I would also note that he pushed Jahari and made him a better wrestler. I was really proud of his progress and watching him work his way to the podium at the OHWAY state tournament.
“Braylon Mays was sorely missed this weekend. He’s been a very solid wrestler for us all year. He suffered an unfortunate injury in practice in the lead-up to regionals or he would have been with us at the state tournament. I have no doubt he would have qualified for us as well. We are wishing him a speedy recovery and look forward to having him back in the room in time for the start of next season. He will no doubt be a leader on the team next year entering his eighth grade season. He and Collin are two work horses that bring a high level of class and character to the room.”
Assistant coach Chad Vaughn said the Hillsboro Middle School team was fun to coach.
”They worked their butts off all year and the results are proof,” Vaughn said. “I can’t wait to see what they do in the future. Collin is only a seventh grader, so we’ll get him back next year along with a couple others that will keep us performing at a high level. We look for him and Braylon Mays to set the tone in the room next year. We will miss the leadership and work ethic of Mathias, Jahari, John and Brody, but the program is in good hands with our rising 8th graders.”
Hostetler, Potts and Deans have all qualified for the NUWAY National Wrestling Tournament that will be held in Battle Creek, Michigan at the Kellogg Arena on June 8-9.
Information for this story was provided by Scott Eastes.