KALISPELL — Ricardo Hewitt had never considered wrestling.
A freshman at Kalispell Glacier High School, Hewitt spent the fall with the Wolfpack football program and intended to join the basketball team in November. Fate had other plans.
“First I thought I was going to get on the basketball team, but I didn’t really have the potential of doing basketball this year,” said Hewitt. “But then I realized there was another sport I could do, wrestling. I decided to do it, told my dad and didn’t get my shoes until after I had heard I wasn’t going to be on the basketball team and here I am.”
Unlike many of his peers and competitors, Hewitt didn’t grow up with wrestling, competing in pee-wee and middle school tournaments. Glacier’s first practice this winter was his first look at the sport — one that certainly had him speechless.
“It was very (eye-opening). It was very interesting and I was surprised,” he admitted. “I didn’t really know what wrestling was, so I was like, ‘It looks very difficult, very tiring and exhausting.'”
Determined to overcome the odds stacked against him, Hewitt lasted through two-a-days, fought through conditioning and weight cuts and took the mat for his first official match, a 132-pound junior varsity bout against Missoula Sentinel, in December.
“I knew I was probably going to lose because it was my first time wrestling, but it was very fun. It was very fun with the team, the experience and the journey. I got pinned very quickly,” he said, a sheepish grin on his face.
Even in the defeat, Hewitt was enjoying the ride, continuing to do so. His first win came in a JV match against a Hamilton competitor, then he notched his first varsity victory against a wrestler from Whitefish.
Hewitt joins his Wolfpack teammates at the Western AA seeding tournament on Saturday, in the running for a berth in the State AA tournament bracket next weekend. The top eight wrestlers in each weight class from the Western AA and Eastern AA seeding tournaments advance to Billings’ Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, and Hewitt hopes he has the simple secret to success to help his inaugural season advance to the final weekend.
“Focus. Focus on what I need to do, my job, including my teammates. I need to offer them advice and just have a good mental mindset ready to go, you know?” Hewitt said. “I’ve learned a lot of things from coaches and teammates. Work together, play hard and you just keep going, you never stop. You have fun, always have fun because if you never have fun it’s just boring.”
Win or lose, advancing or elimination, Ricardo Hewitt has found a home on the Glacier wrestling squad, earning the respect of coaches, teammates and opponents alike. When next November rolls around, don’t expect a run at redemption on the basketball courts. Hewitt is here to stay.
“Definitely. This is definitely my sport now,” he said.
The Western AA seeding tournament begins Saturday morning at Missoula Big Sky High School. To follow along, please click here.