Redshirt Wrestlers Bolster Ohio’s Roster

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Being held out of competition is hard for any athlete to take. For the Ohio wrestling squad, that often becomes a reality, as head coach Joel Greenlee redshirted over half of his team over the past couple years. 

It's a tough reality, but the Bobcats actually appreciate the chance to improve their strength and wrestling techniques in that time.

I think this is important for wrestlers because it helps target three different areas of wrestling,” Greenlee said. “They need the year to get ready for school, there’s other guys who need it to develop their wrestling technique, and then there are those who need it because they’re not physically mature enough to wrestle at the college level.”

This year, redshirting is a must in order to prepare freshman 165-pounder Austin Reese for a starting role next season. Redshirt senior Harrison Hightower, an NCAA national qualifier, currently has 165 locked down.

“Reese is having quite a bit of success and I think part of it is due to being able to train and wrestle with one of the top ranking wrestlers in the country,” Greenlee said regarding Hightower’s training. “Because he’s redshirting this season, he’s able to learn a lot from these boys and really enjoy the sport from them.”

Hightower is no stranger to training younger wrestlers and helping to shape them up into some of the top contenders in the country. As an NCAA National qualifier and redshirt junior, Sparty Chino knows Hightower’s training well.

“When I was redshirting, Harry showed me the ‘dos-and-don’ts’ of college wrestling, and definitely acted like a brother to me,” Chino said. “He helped me along the way, and I don’t know if I’d be the wrestler I am today if it wasn’t for him.”

With a past season of successful training and mentoring, Hightower is now faced with the task of showing Reese the ropes of college wrestling and preparing him for the brutal demands of wrestling the varsity spot at 165 pounds.

Nevertheless, Hightower is confident in Reese’s ability to progress to the next step.

“As I know from redshirting my freshman year at Virginia Tech, coming to college is a reality check,” Hightower said. “Austin knows this and he’s very self-motivated to get better. He makes my job simple. I just need to set the right example, be a friend to him, and beat him up on the mats to toughen him up. If I do that, good things will come his way.”

And the good things have already started coming as Reese placed first in his weight class in the freshman/sophomore division in the Michigan State Open on Nov. 2.

“I just want to keep getting better everyday, keep learning and growing, and just keep pushing on,” Reese said about his training. “I think wrestling with Harry has hammered that into my head.”

Hightower helped Chino become a successful wrestler, and next year it falls into the hands of Austin Reese from Urbana, Ohio, to carry on that trend.

Ultimately, redshirting has created more than just an opportunity to improve wrestling techniques for Hightower, Chino and Reese. It has created a strong bond between the wrestlers.

“The biggest help [Chino and Hightower have] given me is just talking with me,” Reese said. “Sometimes I’ll sit down and just talk with them. The wrestling advice is something I can take with me to the mats, but the bond is something I can take on and off the mats.”