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Plant City Observer Friday, Jun. 23, 2017 1 year ago

Athlete of the Week: Joseph Hatfield

Joseph Hatfield earned All-American honors at Disney Duals.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

At the end of the 2017 Disney Duals wrestling tournament, eight members of Strawberry Crest’s summer wrestling team left with All-American honors. One of them was incoming junior Joseph Hatfield, who placed third overall wrestling at 182 pounds. Head coach C.J. Gittens says that, despite Hatfield’s youth, the Charger’s mat technique and leadership skills have grown to a point where he’ll be counted on as a team leader for the upcoming 2017-18 high school season.

Know someone who deserves an Athlete of the Week feature? Email Justin Kline at [email protected] by the Friday before the next issue.


Tell me about your Disney Duals experience.

It was really fun. I enjoyed it. It was a tough competition. It gave me a chance to show how much I’ve improved and how much better I can be. Those two matches that I lost lets me know that there’s stuff to work on. I can keep improving.

How long have you been with the team?

I’ve been wrestling with them since sixth grade. That was when I started coming around the Crest wrestling team. My cousin, he was on the team and he always wanted me to go. I’d show up with him, I’d go to practices and even at that young age I was still beating some of their seniors and stuff. It was pretty cool.

Where have you improved the most?

My technique and the way I move, that’s improved a lot since last year and freshman year. I’ve gotten a lot better with technique. I’m more technique than anything. I’m pretty big, but I need a lot more strength for some of these guys. They’re monsters.

What style of wrestling do you normally work?

Usually (tournaments) are all folkstyle, and that’s what I like wrestling. That’s what I wrestle during the (high school) season, so I practice that style.

For those at home that don’t know much about styles, what are the differences?

Greco-Roman is all upper-body. You start throwing people, getting them to their back. Freestyle is exposing the back. Your stand-up is kind of like folkstyle, except in folkstyle you can work on the ground. Freestyle, you take him to the ground, you have 10-15 seconds to start working moves.

What’s the best thing about being a part of this team?

This team’s always been together. They’re always there for each other. Over the years, you can see how much we’ve improved as a team. This past year, we won districts. We hadn’t won districts since the team has been open. We’re just slowly improving. This year, we probably have a shot at (winning) regionals, too. We were only a few points behind last year. We’ve just got to keep on working hard at it and keep on keeping on.

What’s your top wrestling goal?

State champ. That’s what I want to be. This year, I think I could win it or get somewhat close. I will qualify this year. I know that for a fact.


Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013.

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