So, how was your summer?
For Thomas Haines it turned out to be a whirlwind of emotion. And travel.
And, not to get too dramatic here, a life-affecting decision.
In the 8a-x weeks that began with the surprise announcement of Penn State offering a scholarship to California heavyweight prospect Nick Nevills, Haines found himself re-assessing decisions already made and devoting energies to new options.
The offer to Nevills prompted a parting of the ways between Haines, who had verbally committed to PSU the previous November, and the Nittany Lions.
It also re-opened the recruiting door for the rising senior and three-time PIAA State Champion, who, having shut down the process with his early choice, really had no experience with the recruitment pas-de-deux.
Can you say road trip?
“It was fun, but it was stressful,” said Haines who ended a multi-campus tour with the announcement of his intention to attend Ohio State University.
While Haines’ recruitment may have been somewhat unorthodox, his father, David, told Flowrestling’s Willie Saylor, it was a blessing in disguise. “He got to see so much. And he’s going to a place he really connected with.”
“I visited Lehigh, Maryland, Cornell, Lock Haven,” Haines said recently as he cooled down from soccer practice. “Ohio State was the last one I went to.
“I didn’t think I was going to like (OSU),” he shared. “I’d liked Cornell before that. But I went out there (to Columbus) and I loved it!”
Buckeyes’ coach Tom Ryan visited Haines before Haines made the trip and they connected.
“He was very upbeat and energetic,” Haines said. “He seemed like he had a plan (and) I felt like I really got along with him.”
Under Ryan the Buckeyes have become a perennial contender, both in the Big 10 and nationally.
Two-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber was named the Tommy Rowlands Outstanding Wrestler of the 2013 NCAA Division I championships, after winning the 133-pound title, and two-time All-Americans Hunter Steiber and Nick Heflin finished third and fifth, respectively. The Buckeyes placed sixth overall in the team race.
Two native Pennsylvanians — Nick Roberts, a 3-time Class AA Pa. state champion for North Star who will be a sophomore, and Kenny Courts, a 2-time AAA champion at Central Dauphin and red-shirt sophomore — are on the Buckeye roster.
Haines will also see another familiar face in fellow recruit Kyle Snyder who has been both a travel teammate and a formidable foe through the years. Haines looks forward to trhe oppoerunity to train with him..
“We’ve gotten along well,” Thomas told Flowrestling.
Snyder, who will forgo his senior season at Good Counsel High School in Maryland to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. Whiel there he will attend Coronado High School.
“I think, honestly, he’ll be in the Olympics,” Haines said. “He’s always put in the work, he’s driven and, he’s good enough.”
Speaking of putting in the work, Haines is working on preparations for his college career.
Part of that is a move to heavyweight for his senior season. “I want to get that experience now, rather than coming to college and having no idea what it’s like wrestling bigger guys,” he said.
Can’t be any harder than wrestling with where to spend that college career.