Hidlay earns top freshman honor
RALEIGH — Following a perfect 81-0 record and two state titles in his final two seasons at Mifflin County High School, redshirt freshman Trent Hidlay has made a name for himself at NC State, earning the 2019-20 ACC Freshman of the Year award, the league office announced on Tuesday.
Hidlay went 23-4 for the Wolfpack this season and helped NC State achieve its first undefeated dual-season in its 91-year history. Wrestling at 184 pounds, he finished second at the ACC Championships earlier this month in Pittsburgh.
“It means a lot and I think the ACC was super strong this year, so it means even more to be able to come out on top and be recognized as one of the best guys in the conference,” Hidlay said. “I think you see it a lot now with how the ACC has improved, and I think we can compete with any team at the national level. Being recognized as the top freshman in our conference means a lot to me. The coaches have been good at generating young success and I credit those guys.
“I thought I had a really consistent year and stayed disciplined in everything I do. I think that contributed to the success I had this year and I’m ready to jump to the next level. I think for me, going into this offseason is a good time to look back and reflect a little bit, recover and work on some technical things and appreciate where I’m at and appreciate what the coaching staff has done for me.”
Hidlay’s second-place finish to Hunter Bolen of Virginia Tech at the ACC Championships earned him a qualifying spot at nationals, where Hidlay was the No. 5 overall seed at 184 pounds.
“I think it was a pretty fair seed for me,” Hidlay said. “I took a few losses during the year and I had a few really good wins too. I beat the number one seed in my weight earlier in the year and liked where I was in the bracket and thought I was in a good position to win the tournament. It does hurt, it stings really bad to have everything swept underneath you, but as a whole we need to look at the regular season meaning more.”
The news of the cancellation was difficult for Hidlay, who was looking to make his first NCAA Championships appearance.
“It was pretty devastating, and I was very emotional,” Hidlay said. “Everyone on our team was really emotional and I don’t know if I’ve cried harder than that in a long time. I think our coaching staff has done a really good job, as well as the administration staff at NC State, that has made sure that we are OK and we’re trying to move on from it.
“It’s a very bizarre and unusual situation and nobody really knows what is going on but I’m trying not to dwell on it,” Hidlay continued. “Having a good support group and a good team helps and we’re trying to move forward and get ready for the next challenge ahead. We all have an opportunity to accomplish our goals next season. If I spend time dwelling on it, that’s time I lose in training. We need to recognize the pain and put it where it matters to be able to move forward.”
The disappointment will serve as fuel for the upcoming season for the former Husky.
“There is definitely a lot of motivation without having closure on your season,” Hidlay said. “There are a lot of thoughts and what ifs. I know for me, I’ll have a lot of sleepless nights moving forward but I think its motivation to go out and get what’s yours next year. Don’t take anything for granted. It’s less about the wins and losses, just having the ability to compete will be special. I think everyone will be grateful to go out and compete and do what we love. I’m really excited for next year and the new challenges that await.”
Other goals for Trent include qualifying for the Olympic Trials with his brother, Hayden, which he will now have an extra year to train for — one of the things he believes is a positive in a bad situation.
“I think that being on the Olympic team is what every kid dreams of growing up in the sport,” Hidlay said. “It’s definitely a dream of ours to get to make the team and compete at the highest level. We both have made previous worlds teams and it’s a great experience to test yourself against the best guys in the world. With the Olympic trials being postponed I think it works in our favor a bit. Where we are at right now has a good training facility, and physically and mentally, we’re in a good spot. Having an extra year to prepare and make a run at that is something we are definitely interested in.”
With Trent’s brother, Hayden, winning ACC Wrestler of the Year, the duo became the first pair of brothers to win the ACC’s major wrestling awards in the same season — they’re also the first set of brothers to ever do so.
Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin is elated with the success of his former wrestlers.
“I am so proud of the legacy Hayden and Trent are building at the collegiate level,” Martin said. “They are a constant source of pride for the wrestling community in Mifflin County. Hayden and Trent are representative of the type of wrestler I want our wrestlers at all levels to copy.”
For Trent, the relationship and experience with his brother is incomparable.
“I think it speaks a lot about the relationship that we have,” he said. “As competitors we are really hungry to win, and we push each other in a really healthy and competitive way. Besides that, it makes us really good friends and he’s been my best friend since high school in taking this all in and training, and working through hard losses, and coping with failure to get better. It says a lot about the way we were raised and the way our parents wanted us to be. We stay disciplined, and consistently it’s helped us to raise the bar and now it’s time to jump another level. I’m confident that we can keep getting better. We’re going to keep trucking on and grinding it out.”