Five Lima Central Catholic High School athletes announced their college choices on Friday, with the marquee signing coming from wrestler Hunter Lucas, who made it official he will go to the University of Maryland.
Lucas has been runner-up in the 120-pound weight class in the Division III state wrestling tournament the last two years. He had a 45-3 record as a senior.
“I looked into a lot of very good D-II schools but my main decision was Maryland just because it was Big Ten and I’ve always wanted to go Big Ten,” Lucas said. “Penn State is the No.1 team in the nation, they dominated the NCAAs this year. The Big Ten is the best conference so that’s where I wanted to go.”
The other four Thunderbirds going through signing ceremonies were: Nick Taflinger (Bluffton basketball), Ryan Rhodes (Ohio Wesleyan football), and Paul Holbrook (Heidelberg football) and Dru Edwards (Heidelberg football).
Lucas is going into a Maryland wrestling program that was a powerhouse in the Atlantic Coast Conference but has struggled in the Big Ten, winning only one conference match in the last two seasons.
“It’s definitely an opportunity just because they’re up and coming. I want to be part of something great, something that is going to grow and prosper,” Lucas said. “They’re starting to recruit Ohio a lot because Ohio and Pennsylvania are real good wrestling states.”
Lucas expects to wrestle at 125 pounds in college.
“Bumping up to 125 is going to be crazy because I have to get a lot bigger. It’s going to be a huge difference because you’re going to have guys cutting down from a lot more than just 125. You might have guys cutting down from 140 so I have to get stronger.”
Lucas said his two close losses in his state championship matches — a 2-1 overtime decision this year and 1-0 last year — will motivate him on the college level.
“It really motivates me. It really gets under my skin because I worked all my life just for that state title but I never got it. But now I have four years to get a national title. I just have to go out there and fight. I just have to fight for a starting spot, let alone a national title. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.