Former THS grappler to wrestle in Nebraska
Hunter Samuels just couldn't stay away.
The 2005 Tonganoxie High graduate wrestled four years for the Chieftains and capped off his prep career with a trip to state his senior season.
Last fall, Samuels enrolled at Dana College, an NAIA school about 20 miles north of Omaha.
Samuels had visions of wrestling at Dana his freshman year, but it was likely he would be red-shirted. In addition, Samuels enrolled at Dana because of an academic scholarship the university offered the THS graduate.
"I was kind of feeling I wasn't positive I wanted to wrestle anymore," Samuels said. "After 12 years in it I thought maybe I had gotten a little burned out.
"Wrestling is something that if you're not 100 percent sure, it's going to be torture each and every day."
But leaving the sport, it turned out, also became tough to stomach.
"Halfway through the season I was already regretting the decision," Samuels said.
Winter break came and went, as did January and February. During that time, Samuels kept thinking about getting back on the mats.
Then in March, about a week after Dana finished the wrestling season, Samuels spoke to coach Richard Fergola about joining the team.
The Vikings, by the way, finished the season as NAIA national champions.
"He just wanted to make sure I didn't want to go out because they won a national championship," Samuels said. "He wanted to make sure I was committed to the rest of my career at Dana."
Samuels, though, said he already had his mind made up before the Vikings captured the national crown.
During the school year, Samuels said he socialized with many of the Viking grapplers and realized he couldn't stay away from wrestling any longer.
"I had kind of already decided I wanted to go back and just going back having visions of helping them repeat and wanting to be a part of something that big," Samuels said. "I knew Dana was a great wrestling team."
He started off-season workouts the week after spring break. He's also been working out five days a week this summer. Samuels has been working out and wrestling with THS coach Jeremy Goebel during the summer.
"I talked to Coach Goebel," Samuels said. "He was one of the guys when I was a senior who was really pressing for me to wrestle in college.
"I know that if I called Coach at two in the morning he would come wrestling with me," Samuels said. "I know he'll help me whenever I need it."
On Friday and Saturday, Samuels helped Goebel out, assisting with the annual Chieftain Camp of Champs for wrestlers ages 5 to 18.
"He's definitely a go-getter," Goebel said. "The kid will give you everything he's got. I think that will carry him a long ways in the college ranks.
"Shoot, who wouldn't want to have a kid who works that hard all the time. If he keeps putting in the time, he'll see the results."
In high school, Samuels competed at his heaviest in the 130-pound class. At Dana, Samuels said he plans to wrestle at 133.
In high school, Samuels finished his prep career with an 89-53 record and that one trip to state.
Goebel was on the sideline for that tournament and he's looking to be in attendance for another.
"Hopefully one of these day I'll be able to watch him at the national tournament," Goebel said.
And that would be just fine with Samuels.
"If you can't do it a state, you might as well do it at nationals," he said.