Panther wrestler, sophomore Dylan Hitt, prowled his way to a slot in the state wrestling tournament at the Salem Civil Center in Roanoke this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 17-18).
Hitt placed third at the qualifying tournament in Strasburg last weekend (Feb. 10-11). “Luckily, Dylan faced most of the toughest competition in the state at this tournament,” coach Galen Weyer said. “He eliminated a previous state placer just to qualify for states.”
“In my first match on Friday, I got a bye because the kid didn’t show up,” Hitt said. “Then, I wrestled Michael Stokes from Strasburg and beat him 6-4. I pretty much rode him out the whole entire match.
“I wrestled Saturday in the semifinals,” Hitt said. “First, I lost 6-0 against Skylar Wolf from Central Woodstock. I pinned him the first week of the season, lost to him two times in districts and lost to him again at this meet. He can ride you out so well. He does that to everybody.
“I knew the next match was going to be tough,” he said, “but I scored 3-1 to knock off Peter Levi from Clarke County, the third-ranked wrestler in the state. In the middle of the match, I was thinking: ‘It’s either win or go home.’
“The final match was my 8-0 win against Michael Stokes from Strasburg,” Hitt said. “The first takedown, I just rode him out. This time, I was able to put him on his back and get some back points. I stopped his roll-through. My coach said it was the best match he’d seen me wrestle in all season. When I see Stokes at states, I hope that win is an even wider margin, like 12-0.
“You can’t really prepare much more for the state meet than you already have,” Hitt said. “It’s probably not as tough as Region B. I don’t know a lot of the kids who will be there, but I’ll study them and try to be able to beat them. I’ve been practicing at Eastern View, and I’ll have a light practice on Wednesday. My mental tactic? Just wrestle your match until proven otherwise. I’m top 16 out of about 100 schools, so I’m just happy to be going.”
“Gary, Amber, Evan and I are so very proud of Dylan,” mother Amy Hitt said. “His hard work over the summer, his attendance at the Virginia Tech wrestling camp for a week, his belief in himself, his determination and commitment to his sport, have all helped him get to this place. As a young athlete, you cannot expect to go to the level that he has gone to without putting forth a ton of hard work and effort. In order to have success in life, you have to work at it. It’s the same with sports. To succeed you must work at it, not just walk on at the beginning of a season and think that you are going to go to the next level.
“We would like to thank Coach Weyer, Coach Drew and Coach Lofton for their dedication to Dylan,” Amy Hitt added, “and also to Hodge Miller, Eric Brown and Eddie Jenkins who work with Dylan during the off-season. Thanks also to Jimmy Swindler and the RCPS family for their support and to John Diley for keeping the stats at every match and to his teammates for their support. We hope that Dylan’s success will bring other students out to compete in all areas of athletics at RCPS.”
At the end of last week’s tournament, Dylan was among other Panthers who gave their last full measure on the mats. “Unfortunately, Jesus Lucas was winning his first match before suffering a concussion,” Weyer said. “That knocked him out of the tournament. Matt Lombardi and Zack Armor made it to the second round of consolations before being eliminated. Alexus Heckethorn, Brian Kelley, and Pat Foley were double eliminated when they lost their first two matches.
“Overall, as a team, we finished 19th out of 20 teams,” Weyer said. “I felt that everyone wrestled below their potential. However, several factors influenced this, including lack of experience in these kind of tournaments. Hopefully, as a team we can learn from our mistakes, correct them next season, and send more wrestlers to states next year.”