Hidlay takes winning ways out West

FARGO, N.D. — Trent Hidlay is a young man on a mission. The primary objective, the dominant thought in his mind, is to end the summer wrestling season on the ultimate high note — bringing back double gold medals at the Junior Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota.

Freestyle action starts Sunday and concludes Tuesday. Greco-Roman willbegin on Thursday and run until Sunday, July 23.

Hidlay comes into the weeklong event ranked number one in the nation at 170 pounds by Flo Wrestling with a record of 94-3 in the offseason. Two losses came at the hands of college wrestlers — Penn State national champion Mark Hall and Taleb Rahmani of Pitt. His only loss to a high school wrestler was up at 195 pounds to Brandon Whitman of Michigan.

The 2017 PIAA 160-pound state champion is No. 11 in the Class of 2018 and fourth in the Keystone State behind Gavin Teasdale, Michael Beard and Gavin Hoffman. With those accolades, it’s easy to see why Trent is one of the big dogs to watch for in Fargo.

“I’ll be competing at 170. I feel really good coming into this tournament. I’m at a weight that I feel comfortable competing at, and I’m ready to win,” Hidlay said. “I’ve wrestled a lot this summer and it has prepared me to win a national championship this week. I’m excited to start competing and take what’s mine.”

The biggest obstacle standing in Hidlay’s way is Travis Wittlake. The three-time Oregon state champion and Penn State commit, down from 182, is a potential finals opponent. Wittlake, the number four recruit in the nation, and Hidlay are no strangers on the mat with Wittlake the victor in two previous meetings.

“Obviously Wittlake is one of the top guys, not only in my bracket, but the nation. He beat me a few times, but I’ve learned lessons from each of those matches,” Hidlay said. “I just have to focus on wrestling my style and not get tied up in trying to beat his style. That goes for every match I wrestle. I’m not looking ahead in the bracket, just going to take it one match at a time.”

The keys to victory for Hidlay are unyielding focus, high levels of confidence and relentless offense. He must get his under hook and snap downs working to set up shots. If he does that and stays aggressive, it will be more hardware for an already bulging trophy case.

“For me to win this tournament I just have to wrestle the way that Trent Hidlay knows how to wrestle. Be stingy, score a lot of points, and try to break my opponent. If I can compete at my highest level, I know I can beat any kid at my weight,” Hidlay said. “I just have to approach each match the same and focus on scoring points. This is such a hard tournament because it challenges not only your physical toughness but also your mental toughness. You have to stay mentally dialed in and remember why you’re there. It’s going to be fun.”

Hidlay is arguably the man to beat in Greco-Roman, a style that fits like a glove for the uber-aggressive grappler who likes working on the upper body to set up his offense.

“I think Greco helped me a lot with upper body wrestling as well as positioning and mat awareness. It is a very different style, and it requires a slightly different strategy against the top guys in the nation in order to win,” he said. “Confidence wise, I think I can compete with anyone in this tournament. My goal is to bring home both stop signs and dominate throughout the tournament. I can only do that if I stay focused and wrestle hard.”

According to Hidlay, one not-so-secret to his success is the support he gets from all the wrestling fans in Mifflin County. He knows they’ll be rooting for him back home and at the Fargo Dome. He will use it as fuel for his competitive fire.

“I’m very grateful for all the support I get from Mifflin County and my family and friends. It’s easy to compete when I have so many great fans in my corner cheering me on,” Hidlay said.