WARSAW – Experience. Talent. Intelligence. A strong work ethic.
Warsaw’s Kyle Hatch has blended all those together into the mix for quite a recipe for success in his first prep season on the wrestling mat.
It doesn’t hurt either that the fabulous freshman has some pretty good bloodlines on his side.
Hatch will represent the Tiger program Friday night at the State Finals in Indianapolis. The 106-pounder punched his ticket to the Big Show at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a fourth-place effort at the Merrillville Semistate last Saturday.
The soft-spoken Hatch will now be the second member of his family to have their name on the Tiger Legends banner for state qualifiers that hangs proudly in the wrestling room at WCHS. Kyle’s father Dan, who is an assistant coach for the program, placed eighth at the State Finals in 1992 at 140 pounds.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Kyle about both of their names being on the banner after he wrapped up practice on Tuesday. “I want to try and beat him and place higher than he did.”
The elder Hatch is understandably one proud papa when it comes to his son.
“It means a lot to me for him to be going to State,” said Dan. “He’s worked for this since second grade. It’s cool to see him reach his goals. As a father, I’m proud of him and excited for him. You always want as a Dad to see your son do better than you did.”
Hatch is on course to make quite the name for himself over the course of his high school career. He was a sectional champion at Plymouth to open his first postseason and then was runner-up at the Rochester Regional before winning his first two matches at semi state en route to his fourth-place finish there.
“The sky’s the limit for Kyle,” said Warsaw head coach Justin Smith. “He’s a hard-working kid who is at every optional practice we have in the mornings. He’s very intelligent, both in the classroom and in the wrestling room, and he wrestles to his strengths and has experience and good bloodlines.”
Smith says the combination of a father-son in the room everyday is a great thing.
“It’s been tremendous,” Smith said. “Dan and I have been coaching together the last six years since I came in and he is a great coach. He and Kyle have a great relationship and a really good repoire.
“Dan works with Kyle all the time and is a major factor in his success. He has a lot of knowledge and he also knows how and when to push Kyle. I just step back and watch them because it’s fun to watch a good coach like Dan. They are like a symphony together.”
Kyle acknowledges that he has an edge.
“I have an advantage with my Dad pushing me,” stated Kyle. “We discuss wrestling all the time. He shares with me how much tougher practices were for him.”
“I like the challenge of wrestling, being with my friends and the fact too that my Dad did it. I thought about making it to state this year. I think I did because I have good coaches, good practice partners (Jeremy Lee, Kameron Hile, Riley Hogenson) and because of practice. I don’t really like to practice, but I know I need to.”
Dan Hatch says there are many reasons for the success of his son.
“He has natural ability and talent and a love for the sport, but it’s his dedication and focus,” pointed out Dan. “He’s probably too serious for his age. He’s also had great practice partners and being a part of the Warsaw Kids Club (a program for youth wrestlers that meets two nights a week) has been huge too for him.”
Hatch will take on a big challenge in his first round match Friday night in the 76th annual finals which includes 224 of the best from all over the state. Hatch, boasting a 33-7 mark, will face No. 1 seed Lukas Long of Lakeland, who is 37-2.
“I really haven’t thought about being under the lights, but I’ve thought about my opponent while doing my cardio,” said Kyle. “My first goal is to win my match on Friday and advance to Saturday. I just want to do my best the whole time down there.”
The first round at Bankers Life Fieldhouse commences at 6 p.m. Friday. The quarterfinals are at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the consolations at 5 p.m. and the finals at 7:30.