WARSAW – Kyle Hatch is anxious to get a true measuring stick of exactly where he is at this wrestling season.
The Warsaw sophomore standout will get that opportunity over the next two days.
Hatch, who is undefeated at 17-0 on the season, and his teammates will take part in the Mishawaka Invitational. The annual invite is one of the state’s top events and features many of the best prep grapplers from around the state.
“I’m excited to wrestle at Mishawaka,” said Hatch in a recent interview. “The competition there is fantastic. It’s a big tournament and it will show me how well I’m wrestling right now.”
Hatch burst on the scene in a fabulous freshman campaign a year ago for coach Justin Smith’s program. He compiled an outstanding 35-13 season, which finished with an eighth place finish at the State Finals in the 106-pound class. He rallied for a thrilling 13-12 win in the final seconds in his first-round match at State to earn a spot in day two. Hatch was a sectional champion at Plymouth, second in the Rochester regional and fourth in the Merrillville semi state last season.
Hatch, despite his perfect start this year at 120 pounds, is not satisfied.
“I just feel a little rusty and feel I could be better,” said Hatch, who was 12-0 when he talked about his season so far.
Smith is also looking forward to seeing Hatch compete at Mishawaka.
“It’s hard to say exactly where Kyle is at right now, but we will know after Mishawaka,” Smith said. “That is the litmus test, the benchmark.”
“Kyle is a better wrestler than last year. All the wrestling he did in the summer was like another season for him. He’s worked hard to develop different attacks and he is quicker on his feet. He has a plethora of pinning combinations.”
“The thing about Kyle is he’s self motivated. He came off the mat after a pin earlier this year at Valparaiso and was upset with his performance. We (myself and assistant coach Dan Hatch) constantly push him and he responds well. It’s a good dynamic, a good give and take between myself and coach Hatch.”
Hatch, whose father Dan placed at State while wrestling at WCHS, also feels that he has improved from a year ago.
“I feel stronger and faster than last year and I think I have better technique,” Hatch stated. “Also all the camps and national tournaments that I wrestled in during the offseason really helped me improve too.”
Smith has a pair of standouts as Rory Nolin is having a stellar senior season. Nolin, a senior co-captain, is a perfect 17-0 at 195 pounds for the Tigers.
“Rory is just having a great season for us,” said Smith. “He’s really come on this year and I’m excited about what he can do the rest of the year.”
Both Hatch and Smith have high expectations once the postseason comes around at the end of January and into February.
“At the bare minimum, I think Kyle will be back at state this year,” said Smith. “Our goal and his is to place higher. I fully expect him to be there on Saturday (for the second day of the State Finals).”
“My goal is the top three at State,” said Hatch. “I know it’s going to take a lot of practice and a lot of hard work. There’s extra motivation for me after going to State as a freshman.”