By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Mat Rat lays the smack down
8-year-old wrestler makes great showing at region, state
Hunter Wilson, 8, displays medals he has won at various wrestling meets during his time as an LCRD “Mat Rat.” - photo by Photo by Patty Leon/Coastal Courier
Small in stature but big with his throws and moves, Hunter Wilson, 8, a member of the Liberty County Recreation Department’s wrestling team called the Mat Rats made his farewell performance at regions and state placing at both meets in the 70 pound bantam weight class.
Wilson and his family will be moving back to Missouri in the fall where he plans to rejoin his former wrestling team the Missouri Bad Boys and continue his wrestling career.
In the meantime the young wrestler made his mark at regions over the Memorial Day Weekend by placing second in Greco-Roman style and third in freestyle. The victories qualified Wilson for state and just one week later he traveled with his father, acting first sergeant, platoon sergeant first class, Michael Wilson of the 984 engineer company, up to Suwannee where he took the bronze medal in Greco=Roman and freestyle.
“Before we left Missouri he was ranked 6th in the state,” his father said.”
Wilson’s family was transferred to Fort Stewart and his father was deployed to Iraq. Wilson and his older siblings, Michael, 17, a recent graduate of the Youth Challenge Academy and Cassandra, 19, a MP currently stationed in Germany, stayed behind with mom and she kept him involved in the sport he enjoyed back in his hometown.
“He used to go to a wrestling group in Savannah,” His father said. “But the group in Savannah was more like play time and not about competition and he didn’t like it and asked to stop going. We never push him, he does what he likes for as long as he wants to and he didn’t want to be a part of that group anymore.”
But as fate would have it, shortly after leaving the Savannah squad, Wilson’s father walked into the LCRD and saw that they were forming their own wrestling group under former collegiate wrestler, Phillip Howe.
“Wrestling with Phillip and the Mat Rats did him a world of good,” his father explained. “He learned Greco-Roman style and freestyle and two months later he was getting medals in those events. Coach Howe really gave his all with those kids. They are currently working out of an old gym, they only have one mat, but they learned and he took them to meets. I got back from Iraq in October and every wrestling tournament he went to my son medalled with the Mat Rats.”
“It was exciting to hear that he placed,” Mat Rat coach Phillip Howe said. “I couldn’t be more excited for him. It stinks that we will be losing him.”
Wilson’s father was transferred back to Missouri where he is set to report by Sept. 10. The family hopes to take TDY in July to find housing and get the family settled. Wilson is scheduled to rejoin his former wrestling team in roughly three weeks as open mat sessions begin. His father will be at his side as he took a position as an assistant coach.
“In Missouri, there is wrestling in high school and the Bad Boys wrestle at the high school gym,” Wilson’s father said. “The high school kids help the younger wrestlers by teaching them techniques for the beginning level and then the younger wrestlers that stay with the program move right in to high school wrestling.”
Hunter Wilson said he started wrestling at the tender age of five as a means of family survival as the youngest of three.
“I would fight with my brother and sister,” he said. “”He actually got beat,” he said as he pointed at his older brother.
Wilson’s father said wrestling instilled the discipline his youngest son needed to improve his focus and grades in school.
“He learned that he had to keep his grades up if he was going to participate in sports,” he said.
But Wilson doesn’t just wrestle, the youngster continues to develop a fond taste for all type of sports.
“He shows a lot of interest in baseball and wrestling,” his father said. “He is a natural in athletics. He picks up any type of sport quickly; He is ambidextrous in his batting and throwing. He even excelled in soccer this season and his team took first place.”
Right now his main interest is the mats but his father believes his interest may slowly shift more to baseball. Regardless Wilson loves to stay active moving from practice to practice, with just enough time for food and homework in between.
“During the season he goes from the minute he wakes up until we are on our way home, sometimes late at night,” his father said. “The only time he is still is when he is sleeping.”


Sign up for our e-newsletters