TOLEDO — The Toledo Boomers wrestling team doesn’t need any extra motivation at this time of year. From the off-season until now, the Boomers have been working toward the postseason, and over the weekend, they finally got their chance.
And with the help of a few motivational sayings, the Boomers had seven wrestlers participate, with six finishing in the top four of their respective groups.
Ethan Ferris took first at 126 pounds, Kyle Hayner beat the top seed in his group to take the top spot at 152 pounds, Hunter Lewis finished second at 170 pounds, Trenton Hutchinson took second at 160, Jacoby Simmonds took fourth at 170 pounds after coming back from a shoulder injury that had kept him out most of the season and Xander Hartsock who finished fourth at 120 pounds.
“We had two mottos we stuck to for the weekend,” Toledo head coach Tony Blomstrom said. “The first was ‘maximum effort,’ and each wrestler left their hearts on the mat every time.”
Sophomore Bo Simmonds took that and embodied it. His toughness and willingness to fight on the mat fits the Boomers identity.
“Even though he did not finish where he wanted, he put everything into every match. I was very proud of his effort,” Blomstrom said.
Toledo also used “Better wrestlers and better men.”
For Blomstrom, wrestling isn’t about doing well on the mat; becoming better men and women is just as important.
“Meaning not only going out there to showcase our growth in our abilities, but to show our growth as sportsman and community members,” Blomstrom said. “Through our wins and losses, the wrestlers represented our school, town and county very well on and off the mat.”
While the Boomers met expectations at Amity High School over the weekend, there were a few surprises along the way.
Freshman Hartsock finished fourth in the 120-pound bracket, a culmination of his journey on the mat.
“We, as coaches, saw him grow as a wrestler right before our eyes. His mat presence and his knowledge took a big step this weekend,” Blomstrom said.
For Ferris, a top finish at 126 pounds was only the start. He also won the Outstanding Wrestler award after pinning his first two opponents, before going toe-to-toe with a tough matchup from Vernonia in the final round of the contest.
“The Outstanding Wrestler award is voted by the league coaches and officials, and for Ethan to be recognized for his efforts this year is pretty awesome,” Blomstrom said. “Ethan has over 10 years of experience on the mat and has wrestled on the national level.
“He uses this experience to frustrate his opponents, and every time they scout him or think they have him figured out he pulls out a whole new set of tools. To quote Rowdy Piper, ‘Every time they think they got the answers, he changes the questions.’"
But Toledo owes a measure of gratitude to Lewis who spent his entire freshman season as the only wrestler on the team for a full year.
His small sacrifice, along with coach Rick Russell, has led to extraordinary accomplishments for the Boomers years later.
“We owe a big piece of that to senior Hunter Lewis who spent a whole season as the only wrestler on the team his freshman year,” Blomstrom said. “His fourth-place finish at state that year helped grow the team into what it is today.”
Lewis followed up his fourth-place finish with a second-place win in his sophomore year and then missed his entire junior campaign due to a rib injury.
But the Boomer is back and ready to make a statement this year at the state wrestling meet.