Matt Hamm’s wrestling career started in the seventh grade. His training for the sport, though he didn’t realize it at the time, came much sooner.
Starting when he was about 10, Hamm – now a Brookville High School junior – spent summers with his late father working on roofs. Hamm started out loading dumpsters. About two years later he was hauling shingles up ladders and helping tear off the old roofs.
So, which one is tougher – six minutes on the mat or a day on the roof?
“I would say … that’s a tough one,” Hamm said, smiling. “It can get really hot on a roof.”
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The Brookville Blue Devils are heating up, too. Brookville won the 27-team Edgewood Invitational on Dec. 7-8 and the 11- team Milton-Union Invitational this past weekend.
At Milton, Brookville won three weight classes with sophomore Mason Esterline (132 pounds), junior Chase Dyer (182) and junior Devon Myers (145). Junior heavyweight Jon Mitchell placed second along with junior Bailey Larson (113) and junior Luke Williams (195).
Esterline beat the top seed 15-0 in the final match for his first invitational victory. Myers, who entered the tournament unseeded, knocked off the top seed 9-2 in his first match.
As for Hamm, he went 1-3 after an injury forced him to default his final two matches and finished fourth.
“Nobody works harder than that kid,” Brookville coach Sam Sampson said of Hamm. “He just works so hard in practice and he just wears kids out. He may not be the biggest or the strongest but he’s going to beat you because he’s going to wear you down in the third period and take over.”
With no seniors on the team, Hamm takes his role as team leader as serious as his workouts.
“We see (our team) as a competition,” Hamm said, “trying to get as many pins and get as many wins as each other. We’re all driven and wanting to do our best.”
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Esterline leads the team with a 21-6 record and nine pins. He’s followed in wins by Mitchell (17-6, 14 pins), Hamm (16-6, 7), Williams (15-6, 11), Dyer (12-3, 8) and Larson (12-8).
“I’m happy with everybody we’ve got. I’m pretty excited to see what the future holds,” Sampson said.
Mitchell joined the Blue Devils program in the eighth grade after his shop teacher told him the team needed a heavyweight.
“I fell in love with it ever since,” Mitchell said. “It’s for your own sense of pride. You go out there and you know you gave it your all win or lose.”
Added Sampson: “I have pretty high expectations and I’m satisfied, but I don’t think he’s where he can be. He hasn’t wrestled very long so he’s just now getting this thing. He’s got a lot more room for growth.”
As does the Blue Devils program. There are 20 on this year’s roster and none are seniors. Still, the Blue Devils are strong contenders for the Southwestern Buckeye League title. They finished sixth last season.
“I would say we’re going to be in it,” Sampson said, whose team faced Versailles on Tuesday night and hosts Oakwood on Thursday night in a special spotlight match.
“I’m not going to say anything crazy, but I expect us to compete for a championship. … I just have a bunch of good kids overall. They want to be great. They’re not satisfied with being average.”