The Will to Compete: A High School Wrestler’s Story

Bryar Hebb is 15 years old from Fredonia, a small farming community in southeast Kansas. He is a farm kid. He has not had an easy road in life. When he was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes disease in the right hip. He is in constant pain. He pushed the pain aside because he wanted to play football. Football is a sport he has always wanted to play. He worked and worked, playing and practicing through the pain until the hip is finally almost healed. It’s still a square peg in a round hole, but Bryar overcame that.

Bryar has always been a big guy, with weight always an issue. ​He has always been bigger than other kids his age, unintentionally intimidating others. His size has bothered him. You can imagine that junior high school kids can sometimes

Fredonia football Bryar image
Bryar weighed in at 355 pounds during football season

be cruel, but Bryar played it off. Now, as a high school, he was 6 feet tall and 355 pounds – a football coach’s dream. He knows his stuff, has some quickness, and with his size can fill some holes. Bryar lettered in football this year, one of only two freshman to letter for his high school team.

The Decision to Wrestle

Building off his football success, Bryar decided to go out for wrestling this past November. Bryar knew he’d need to lose weight as the maximum weight for heavyweight is 285 pounds. Bryar wavered about wrestling since he wasn’t sure he could lose 70 pounds in time.

After some thought and soul searching, he decided he wanted to give it a go. So, on November 20, 2015, Bryar weighed in. The scale read 340.6 pounds. He wasn’t happy, but wasn’t terribly upset either. He’d lost some weight, just not enough. He stuck it out, practicing with the Fredonia Yellowjacket Wrestling team.

With a squad of just 13 members, including Bryar, each wrestler is valued. He practices with them, goes to meets with them, does everything an active member of the squad would do, other than wrestle. If he were lucky, he might have an exhibition match at a few meets. Through the regular season, Bryar had just one exhibition match. He didn’t like staying on the sidelines, doing nothing while his team strutted their stuff.

A Renewed Commitment and Team Support

At that time, Bryar made a decision. He wanted to wrestle in the last home wrestling tournament which was 8 weeks away. At the start of wrestling season, he had 70 pounds to lose before he could actively wrestle. He consulted with his coaches, Aaron Haselwood (head coach) and Charl Hill (assistant coach) to see what he needed to do to reach his goal.

A plan was established. His coaches and team have encouraged him the entire journey. Teammates ran with him, encouraged him, wanted to see him succeed. He started watching what he ate and exercising constantly. His regiment included going into the gym on weekends, running the track in town, or even running out in the country at 4 a.m. with a flashlight to guide him through the dark. He poured his heart into losing the weight. He stayed dedicated to his commitment of clean eating, exercising and positive attitude.

285 Pounds or Bust

As a young man of his word, Bryar wouldn’t give up. Yes, there were times he wanted to stay home and relax, but he couldn’t let himself or his team down. He kept driving, and as the days ticked by, the weight slowly came off. Weeks ticked down to days, days down to hours, and hours to minutes. At the last weigh in on January 30, 2016, he had to hit the scales at 285 pounds or less, or he wouldn’t be able to compete. His coaches, his family, his peers were all cheering him on, waiting to see if he achieved his goal. Just eight weeks after he committed to losing the weight, Bryar weighed in at 285 pounds and reached his goal. Success!

Fredonia wrestling Bryar image
Bryar trimmed down to 285 pounds for wrestling

Coaches Haselwood and Hill were very impressed he achieved his goal. Many doubted Bryar’s ability to lose the weight, especially since he’s just a 15 year old kid. He wrestled competitively for the first time in the Fredonia Invitational, wrestling three times that day. He lost his first match, won his second by PIN, and lost his third by decision. Despite the highs and lows of the match outcomes, Bryar was fulfilling his dream by wrestling competitively.

Bryar faced a near impossible mountain to climb, but he did it with determination and a will to compete. Now, he is an active member of the wrestling squad. The next stop for Bryar’s wrestling team is regionals this weekend. Win or lose, Bryar is already a big winner.

Bryar’s courage, commitment and sheer stubbornness to never give up has inspired many in Fredonia and beyond.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Kelly Odell for submitting the idea for this story and Amy Hebb for her contribution.

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