CAROLINA BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA — Eaton native and Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Butch Hildebrand can now add USA Wrestling Beach National Champion to his resume.
Hildebrand, representing his own gym, Wruffhouse Wrestling, participated in the beach wrestling tournament at Carolina Beach, North Carolina on Saturday, May 30, winning his weight class and becoming a member for the USA Wrestling Beach World Team.
He will travel overseas, representing the United States in the 80kg weight class.
Beach wrestling is literally done in a seven meter circle in the sand – no mat required. In each match, the first wrestler to reach three points is declared the winner. Competitors receive one point for a takedown, one point for a push out (making the opponent leave the circle) and two points for a takedown to the opponents back.
The style of wrestling suited Hildebrand perfectly, he said.
The weight classes however, did not suit him quite as well.
It is broken down by kilograms – with weight classes measuring at 70kg, 80kg, 90kg, and 90-plus kg.
Hildebrand, when he first started thinking about entering the competition, was right at the 90kg mark but thought he’d give up too much size to be competitive. Thus started his journey to lose 30 pounds in about a month. He met his goal with the help of the nutritionist at Eaton Barbell.
The whole journey started when he was talking to a few of the kids he works with at Wruffhouse Wrestling, telling them that he can still compete.
“It was more so about wrestling,” he said. “There’s nothing that says you have to stop competing.”
He wanted to teach his students the value of getting out in the world and challenging themselves.
“I did this whole thing basically trying to prove a point to the kids in my club. You have to get out and compete. Not just locally. You can’t be the best in Preble County. Nobody cares,” said Hildebrand. “You have to get out and experience tough life competition whether it’s wrestling or anything else.”
But the next obstacle facing the former-state champion was the fact that he had never beach wrestled before.
“The footing was the biggest difference,” said Hildebrand. “Things don’t react the same way. Your footing is totally off or you mean to push off one side and you slip. It was crazy.”
Hildebrand drew an opening round bye before taking on a wrestler fresh out of North Carolina State’s wrestling program, beating him 4-1.
In the semi-final matchup, he faced a former Indian University wrestler, winning the matchup in 17 seconds when his opponent colled with the back of his head.
In the finals, we won 4-0 against Jacob Honeycutt from Freedom WC.
“What an awesome experience. I’m in a beach in North Carolina wrestling and I can just run off, go rinse in the ocean,” said Hildebrand. “It was great.”
Beach wrestling is a popular international sport and beginning to gain popularity in the United States.