Evolving into a standout wrestler

West Meck’s Moody is much improved from freshman season

by Cliff Mehrtens

West Mecklenburg’s Hunter Moody (top) battles wrestling teammate Edrian Bautista during practice.

West Mecklenburg High wrestler Hunter Moody sports a 39-4 record as a senior.

That’s impressive, but not what anyone would have predicted when he began the sport as a freshman.

“I (stunk) really bad,” Moody said. “My record was 1-8.”

Moody didn’t have any wrestling experience when he launched his career four years ago. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools doesn’t offer wrestling programs at its middle schools, and Moody wasn’t on a club team or summer team.

He was a newbie, and it showed.

But Moody stuck with wrestling, which he said interested him because his “family did it a little bit.”

“Once I started, I got really interested in it, and grew to love it,” Moody said. “I like that most people can’t do it, and only certain gifted individuals can do it.”

This season, Moody is among the best in Mecklenburg County in the 152-pound weight division.

He was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Hawks Duals Invitational meet  on Jan. 22. Gastonia Ashbrook beat host West Mecklenburg, 57-22, in the championship.

In December, Moody finished second in the 152-pound class at the Al Kessie Mecklenburg County Invitational. He lost in the finals to South Mecklenburg’s Scott Snyder, and helped West Mecklenburg finish sixth among 17 teams.

Those honors didn’t seem possible in Moody’s early days as a wrestler.

“My coach would always push me to go further and further, not to give up or quit on anything in life,” he said.

Moody decided after the rough freshman season that his strategy to improve would be to outwork the competition. Granted, hard work alone doesn’t make someone a better wrestler. Techniques need to be learned and refined. But no one was going to out-sweat Moody, if it was up to him.

“I was always in the wrestling room, every day, working hard,” he said. “I wanted to work harder than anyone else. If someone was working hard, I was working 10 times harder.”

West Mecklenburg wrestling coach Byron Hughes said Moody’s success is due to “a natural ability and technique.”

Moody normally hones his technique in West Mecklenburg’s wrestling room against practice partners Edrian Bautista, a 145-pounder, and Dylan Griffith, a 160-pounder.

At matches, you won’t see Moody jumping around and making lots of noise. While some wrestlers are prone to theatrics before and after matches, Moody takes a different route.

“I’m more of a technique guy,” he said. “I’m more of a nonchalant wrestler. I go out there calm. I don’t get really aggressive like most people do. I think that’s a waste of energy.”

Moody said the key to doing well in upcoming regional (Feb. 17-18) and state (Feb. 23-25) tournaments is to work harder than he has all season.

“It’s my senior year, so I want to go out with a bang,” he said. “We didn’t have any wrestling experience at all. It’s challenging. It’s hard to stick with it that first year. Sometimes you had to grin and bear it. But those that stuck with it and worked on their technique, it paid off in the end.”

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