Brunswick senior wrestler Tyler Hughes is out to secure a spot in the state championships for the second straight season.
It’s hard to imagine that a little over two years ago, wrestling was one of the furthest things from his mind.
“Thinking back, I had no idea where my life was going,” Hughes said. “One day, the doctor came in and said in his professional opinion that I should never play sports again. So what I’m doing now is amazing.”
At the end of his freshman year, Hughes noticed he couldn’t move his arm while playing baseball. Over the next year, he endured four surgeries and spent most of his days at home after doctors discovered a blood clot in one of the veins leading to his heart.
“It really bummed me out,” Hughes said. “Not being able to lift or run took its toll on me emotionally. When you go through something like that, it’s mental. I had some anxiety coming back. It scared me.
“But I had some great people around me and I don’t take anything for granted.”
Hughes missed physical activity so much that he was able to convince his doctors to move up his final appointment to the week before the sectional tournament.
The doctors complied, but after he was cleared, he got mononucleosis the next day and didn’t compete in the postseason.
“It was tough on Tyler to have to miss his sophomore year, and also tough on the team not having him in our lineup,” Brunswick coach Mike Koshar said. “However, he didn’t let that get him down. He started training in March of his sophomore year and hasn’t stopped since.”
Since returning, Hughes has posted a 69-11 record. He earned his first state berth as a junior, followed by a senior season that has included a Northeast Ohio Conference individual title and the 170-pound championship at the Medina Division I Sectional.
Next up is the Cleveland District, which starts tonight at Cleveland State’s Woodling Gym.
“On the mat, Tyler is confident. That confidence comes from his strong work ethic,” Koshar said. “He feels he is in better shape than his opponents and he believes in the end he will win matches in the third period or overtime.
“It is hard to say by looking at his brackets how he will do. All the kids are tough and anybody can be beat on any given day. However, I do know he expects to go to state again, and he expects to place this time.”
It’s all due to a relentless work ethic, which is why the 6-foot-1 Hughes was able to return to competition on the football field as a junior and eventually start at defensive end.
“I’m a glass half-full kind of guy,” he said. “I don’t look at the negative side. I’m very thankful for what I have. “Things can be worse and I’ve dealt with all of it. It was a wake-up call.”
For Hughes, the highlight came when the Blue Devils went from last place in the NOC River Division the year before to not only winning the regular-season title this year, but to finishing first out of 18 squads at the league’s postseason tournament earlier this month.
“When everyone asks me my favorite memory from this season, I never think of the personal ones,” Hughes said. “When we won conference, it’s something I will remember the rest of my life. I’m proud of our team. They’re my brothers and I would do anything for them.
“I never thought (two years ago) that I would be doing this and that makes me more thankful. I think it made me more mature to go through something like that.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.