WARSAW – There isn’t much that Kyle Hatch hasn’t accomplished as a wrestler. There’s that one thing, well, that one is obvious. But the decorated high school wrestling career ‘Sloth’ has created will go down in the books as one of the best of all-time.
Hatch wrapped up his senior season as the third-best wrestler in the 152-pound class in the state of Indiana. At the IHSAA Wrestling State Finals, Hatch ran into a bulldozer named Joe Lee from Evansville Mater Dei in the semi-finals and had to concede his undefeated record to the eventual state champion. The notion that Hatch was coming up short of a state title once again didn’t – and doesn’t – sit well with him. But knowing he capped his high school career with a win later in the day against Jimtown’s Kenny Kernn was a feather in his cap.
“He didn’t mess around with me, he just made sure I couldn’t capitalize on anything he did”, said Hatch Tuesday afternoon. Lee would beat Hatch 15-0 in a tech fall in the semis, then toy with Noah Warren of Perry Meridian in a 19-5 blowout in the finals. “He was in control of the whole match. I didn’t, well…”
Contributed Warsaw head coach Kris Hueber of the Hatch-Lee match, “If Kyle would have wrestled defensively and changed his style, he probably loses by major decision at worst. Kyle could have hung with him if he was all defense the whole way. But when you have higher goals, you go after it. That’s growth mindset in general. The risk is worth the reward and sometimes you have to deal with the consequences. Really, I was more proud of Kyle going after it instead of holding back. You saw in every match (Lee) wrestled before that, people were just terrified of him and wouldn’t go after him. Their biggest goal was to not get embarrassed. Kyle just said ‘I’m going to give it a shot’.”
Hatch would finish his senior season 50-1, which the ‘1’ will probably be remembered more than any of the ’50’, but that’s the competitor Hatch is. The ‘1’ from his junior year was what drove Hatch to reach his superior level this season, a loss to Tristan Dembowski of Valparaiso in the quarters of last year’s 138-pound bracket at the East Chicago Semi-state that left Hatch at 40-1 but out of the state tournament. So doing the math, Hatch was 90-2 in two years and has just a third-place ribbon to show for it. That’s wrestling.
But to spin that into a historical sense, Hatch would finish with a career record of 168-16, which serves as the most career wins in the long history of Warsaw wrestling, previously held at 164 by Derek Crousore. His 50 wins is the most in a season, and add in records for career pins as well as season and career takedowns, both takedown marks he upped his previous record totals after this year.
Hatch reached a state finals in three of his four years, placing eighth at 106 his freshman year and seventh at 120 his sophomore year.
Hatch can say with conviction that he has worked just as hard in the classroom, earning a 10.37 GPA (on a 12 scale) through the first half of this year, and is a two-time IHSWCA Academic All-State award winner, a First Teamer his junior year and Honorable Mention his senior year.
“It was pretty cool, I think school is pretty important,” Hatch said of his academic accolades. “You can’t really get anywhere with just being really good in wrestling. You have to also do work in school, pay attention and be respectful to others. You’ll figure it out, you’ll get what you deserve.”
Added Hueber, who is a government teacher at the high school, “Most people who are at the highest level of their sport do things the right way, they don’t pick and choose. The idea that successful people don’t get to pick and choose, all elements of what you should do, you should be investing fully. We don’t always see eye to eye on everything, and that’s alright, but he does a very good job of taking care of business on all ends. And that’s one of the reasons why he is successful in general.”
One of the more interesting roles Hatch played outside the wrestling arena is one of the most anonymous positions in popular sport. The kicking game is often the third wheel in football, lost in the pageantry of offense and the grit of defense. Even so, the holder is certainly not a recognizable position. Find a person who can name two holders in historical context. But it would be safe to say that Hatch is the toughest holder in the state. And did the job for possibly one of the best to ever come out of Warsaw in Andrew Mevis, who played in the Under Armour All-American game and is going to get a Fordham University education because he can kick a football 50 yards.
So how does one of the most high profile wrestlers in the state also serve as possibly the most overlooked person in a football program?
“Wrestling was always about working on myself, whereas football holding was working to help someone else do better, which also helps the team,” stated Hatch, who had to think about the two in context for possibly the first time. “Holding was pretty simple. It was just doing a job and focusing on doing it right over and over. There isn’t much to it. I just wanted to do it right.”
Hatch vows his journey as a Tiger wrestler is just a chapter in his bigger book, which the next chapter will have him wrestling collegiately at Wabash College. Going back to seventh grade, when fellow senior wrestler Christian Taylor dubbed Hatch as ‘Sloth’ – Hatch divulging he hated being called that – that his meteoric rise through Warsaw High School wrestling would have that nickname become part of his folklore and serve as a badge of honor.
There isn’t much that is slowing Sloth down these days. And certainly, the future is bright for one of the best to ever wrestle in tiger stripes.