Prophetic ending for Hamilton
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
PELHAM – He didn't taste success right away. He lost his first-ever junior varsity wrestling match by pin in the opening period. His second match was not much better he lost by pin in the second period.
But just making past the first period was enough to keep Kurt Hamilton interested in a sport where he eventually felt the satisfaction of winning a championship.
"I thought it was cool I made it to the second period and didn't get pinned in the first period again," Hamilton said. "My mom said I could quit. After all we had driven one hour to my first match and three hours to my next one and I got pinned both times. But, I wanted to stay with it."
Hamilton would take fourth place at a tournament the next time he wrestled and he was hooked on grappling.
He would progress and eventually take fourth place in the 152-pound class at the state tournament during his sophomore season in 2003.
A few months later, Hamilton's mother still had doubts about how good a wrestler her son could become. Hartselle coach Keith Corder assured her Kurt would be a success. In fact he put it in writing.
"I wrote it out on a piece of paper," Corder said. "It said, 'Kurt Hamilton would be a state champion before it's all over.' Then I signed and dated it-06-29-03."
As if fulfilling a prophecy, Hamilton was crowned a state champion last Saturday when he won the 171-pound class with a 4-2 win over Josh Bierman of Benjamin Russell High School.
Hamilton had finished second in state a year earlier in the 160-pound class.
This time, however, he used a different approach to overcome the nervousness he felt had cost him the title 12 months before.
"I started thinking, 'What is the worst case scenario?'" Hamilton said.
"I waned to relax myself. If I'm nervous during a match, I just don't perform well. So I said to myself, the worst you can do is finish second again. It's not too bad to finish runner-up.
"Being a state finalist twice would be pretty good."
The mind-set helped him relax and go after his opponent aggressively. Hamilton had topped Bierman 6-5 earlier this season and expected a tough match again.
When it was finally over, Hamilton rushed and jumped into Corder's arms as the Hartselle faithful in the stands exploded.
"When the referee raised my hand, I didn't know how to react," Hamilton said.
"I was in shock for a few seconds and then I think I went crazy and jumped on coach. I thought, 'Am I really the state champion?'"
Hamilton said fulfilling his coach's prediction of victory is something that won't leave his memory anytime soon.
"When I won the title, it was the best feeling I had ever had," Hamilton said. "I won't ever forget that moment for the rest of my life."