Carver senior Hinton aiming for slice of history

City champ wants to become 1st from school to win state title; he's been knocked out in semifinals the past 2 years

February 23, 2011|By Sandra McKee, The Baltimore Sun

Carver senior wrestler Tyler Hinton is one of those kids who come to class every day, never misses a team practice and earns everything he gets.

This season Hinton — who also plays football and lacrosse — has had more than a little success. He won a regional championship last year in the 135-pound class and finished third in the state championships. This season he is 28-1, with his loss a hard-fought 11-7 decision against No. 1 Archbishop Spalding's 140-pound state champion Will Switzer. Hinton repeated as Baltimore City champion last weekend and plans to do the same this weekend at the 2A/1A North regional at Dundalk before heading to the state championship March 4-5 at College Park.

Hinton has applied to three schools — Maryland, Iowa and Ohio State — and hopes to study computer graphics.

Question: How long have you been wrestling, and how did you get started?

Answer: I've been wrestling eight years. I started in third or fourth grade. My gym teacher handed out a paper with information about a wrestling program, and my dad took me my first practice. It was a junior league program, and they had a tournament. I took second and got hooked on it.

Q: What is it that you like about the sport?

A: I like that it helps me condition my body for other sports that I play. I'm a linebacker and defensive tackle in football, and I take the faceoffs as a midfielder in lacrosse. In football, you need leg strength, back strength and a strong stance. In lacrosse, the faceoff stance is just like the stance in wrestling. And in wrestling we sprint, do squat hops — which I hate, but I know they're good for me. And all of it improves my quickness.

Q: Of the three sports you compete in, which one is your favorite? And why?

A: Wrestling. It's done so much for me because I realize other sports use the same techniques.

Q: Do you have a favorite move?

A: The spladle. It's a difficult move to do, especially for me, because I'm short and have short legs.

Q: Can you describe what you do to create a spladle?

A: When we're in the referee's (starting position, up or down), I slide my leg between his legs, and then when he tries to stand up, I will reach my arm over his back and grab his other leg. I'll pull it towards my back and I'll stretch it. It will hurt him for a while and I'll lean back and pin him. It's what I'm known for in the city. I do it a lot.

Q: How many pins do you have among your 28 wins? And how many of them have you gotten with a spladle?

A: I have 20 pins, and most of them are with the spladle. It's a great feeling, winning with that move. Most of the time I start out doing it wrong, and I know when I do it wrong I'll get caught. But when I do it right, when I use the right technique, I know I'm going to win and it makes me feel better about myself.

Q: Your coach says you have improved your technique this season and that you have very strong, flexible hips. How did you get them?

A: I like dancing. One of my favorite things to do when I'm home is to play the Michael Jackson Wii video game. I can moonwalk. When I was younger I used to dance a lot. I was in the dance ministry at my old church, the Community Church of Christ. All of it has helped my hips.

Q: How have you grown as an athlete or a person this season?

A: I've grown a lot. Not just this year, but since I've been wrestling. The Woodlawn Wolfpack, my junior league program, was all about growing up and taking pride in what we do. And I've had a lot of good coaches — Walter Johnson, Waive Gibson, who coaches Poly, Kamar Owens, who used to coach here, Coach Girch (Caver coach Shawn Girch) — and friends — Kristopher, my brother; Brandon Gibson; and Antonio Brockington — who have all helped me to get where I am.

Q: You finished third at states last year. I suspect you want to do better than that this year?

A: I want to be the first person from Carver to win a state title. It's really a hard thing to do, and to this point it has been tiring. I've made it to the semifinals each of the last two years and lost. This year, I'm approaching it differently. Before I'd look at those other wrestlers from schools we hadn't wrestled before and be intimidated. This year, I'm not worrying about them. I have more confidence. I was sky-high after finishing third. No one ever expected me to place at states. They all thought I was just a cocky wrestler. This year I've only had one loss, and that came to a very good kid at Spalding. I was winning going into the third period against him. I should have beaten him. From now on, I'm just going out there and wrestle.

Q: You mentioned your dad took you to your first wrestling practice. Is he still coming to watch you wrestle and giving advice?

A: My dad comes to all of my matches. He'd get mad if I had a match and didn't tell him. He never wrestled, but he gives me advice. Most of the time I take it, but sometimes I don't. The best thing he ever told me was: "You can win some matches, but you can't win them all. Learn from your losses."

Q: Does your mom come to your matches, too?

A: She does not like wrestling. When she comes, something bad usually happens to my opponents, like broken arms and stuff. She still comes but now makes me promise not to hurt anyone. When she's here, I do think about that. It hasn't cost me a match, but I do take it easy on the other guy.

Q: What's the hardest thing about wrestling — the workouts, the diet, what?

A: At 5 feet 4, I'm the shortest person in my weight class. Everybody likes to pick on the short kid. I've found I have to be quicker than they are. It used to be worse. I used to wear glasses, and I looked like a nerd, too.

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