At this time last year, Medina’s Matt Hogue was busy putting on the pounds.
Now, like the majority of area wrestlers, he is spending the week shedding excess weight to get ready for Medina’s first home match, the Battle of Route 18, tonight against Highland and North Royalton.
The senior wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It was nice getting to eat,” Hogue joked. “But last year I had to work hard because you knew they were going to be stronger than you, so I learned as much as I could. I’m finally dropping weight, which is just a part of wrestling.”
After competing at 132 pounds last winter, the 18-year-old has dropped down to his natural weight of 120.
The seniior logged countless hours in the wrestling room over the summer, along with competing in tournaments. He placed third at the AAU Scholastic Duals in Florida in July.
“He was in the room once or twice a week (over the summer) and even this preseason he wrestled in a bunch of open tournaments,” Medina coach Chad Gilmore said. “He didn’t like what last season was like, so he made the sacrifice to get down to that weight.”
Hogue was a late starter to wrestling and his sophomore and junior year was stuck behind standouts like Al Ewing and Zach Getto, forcing him to add weight and move up a class in order to get on the mat.
Last winter, Hogue went 15-15 and was fifth at the Northeast Ohio Conference Tournament, but now that he’s at a more comfortable weight the 6-footer is wrestling with renewed energy.
“It’s a lot of fun actually … huge confidence booster,” Hogue said. “I’ve always doubted myself, but it’s nice to see that hard work pays off.”
It didn’t take long for Hogue to see success. He finished runner-up last weekend at the Bison Kickoff Classic in Beachwood. He lost to Beachwood’s Sammy Gross, the reigning Division-III state champ at 113 pounds a season ago, in a 4-3 heartbreaker in the title bout.
“I knew he was a hard-nosed kid because I’ve wrestled him before,” Hogue said. “I just knew I shouldn’t hold back. There’s no reason to.
“My mentality has been different. It feels right. It feels good to know where I’m at. It shows all the progress.”
Hogue will certainly be tested with a schedule that includes the prestigious Medina Invitational Tournament and the Josh Hephner Memorial at Austintown Fitch.
But the Bee is ready to leave a mark on the Medina program just like Ewing and Getto did before him.
“I have a new goal every week,” Hogue said. “Now it’s just perfecting my stance, staying in position, staying aggressive and all the basics. I’ll slowly build on that, pushing myself into the postseason and the goal is states.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.