PANDORA — Thomas Hochstettler is going downhill fast when it comes to mountain biking. The Pandora-Gilboa High School senior enjoys the risk involved in the sport.
“Once a year, my brother Tim and I take a mountain biking trip to Hell, Mich., and sleep overnight in tents. It’s a lot of fun. But it’s hilly, and there are roots and rocks all over the place, and the trails are narrow, so it’s definitely dangerous, which is probably what makes it fun. The summer before my junior year, I broke my arm and missed all of football season,” he said with a laugh.
“I have another older brother, Joe, who was really into sports,” Hochstettler added. “He’s the one whose shoes I try to fill. … My brothers and I are pretty close.”
Hochstettler said he enjoys other outdoor activities.
“My grandpa has a cottage on Lake Vineyard in Michigan, and we go up there a lot to water ski and go tubing,” he said. “I’ve been water skiing since I was 4 or 5. My dad had me out there as soon as Mom would let me. He went to the lake when he was little, so he’s spent his life there, too. It’s a family thing.”
At Pandora-Gilboa, Hochstettler serves as class president, secretary of the National Honor Society, and has worked with the stage crew for school theater productions.
In sports, Hochstettler is a four-year member of the football, basketball, and track teams, serving as a captain for basketball and track.
“I’ve always had high expectations, and I love to compete, both individually and as a team. All of us put a lot of time into it, and it’s nice to see all of our hard work pay off. Our teams have progressively improved each year,” he said.
Hochstettler has earned several awards for his efforts. In football, he received First Team Blanchard Valley Conference honors as a wide receiver. Last year in track, he placed second in state competition in the 800-meter run and earned First Team Putnam County League honors in that event. He also placed third at state in the high jump and received First Team Blanchard Valley Conference honors. With the 4x200-meter relay team, he placed fifth at state and helped the Rocket track team win second overall.
“That was pretty awesome because we’d won regionals the week before,” Hochstettler said, “and there were just four of us. That was one of my favorite sports moments.”
Hochstettler said he would like to run track in college, regardless of whether he receives a scholarship. He plans to earn a degree in electrical engineering.
Outside school, the outdoors, and sporting activities, Hochstettler mows lawns and plows snow for St. John Mennonite Church, as well as residential homes in Pandora.
Hochstettler is a member of the St. John youth group.
“We meet at my house on Wednesday nights for Bible study. It’s just for guys. A lot of people who aren’t members of our church go, too, and it’s nice because when we get into discussions, we have different views,” he said.
Pandora teen hits bumpy road