Hubbard earns top conference honor

Published 10:18 pm Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lakeland High School senior 145-pounder Blade Hubbard recently proved that character and competitiveness still make for a winning combination when he was named the Ironclad Conference Wrestler of the Year.

He received the award based on the votes of coaches from all six conference schools, following the conference tournament.

Lakeland High School senior 145-pounder Blade Hubbard was voted by a panel of coaches as the conference Wrestler of the Year.

Lakeland High School senior 145-pounder Blade Hubbard was voted by a panel of coaches as the conference Wrestler of the Year.

“I was incredibly shocked, and I was really honored to get it,” Hubbard said.

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He wrestled only two matches at the IC tournament because not all six teams were able to supply a full lineup of wrestlers. He took the 145-pound title after first pinning Heritage High School junior Daquan Jones in 3:16 and then achieving a technical fall over Nansemond River High School sophomore Malik Neely in 5:13.

Hubbard said he was unsure of why he was selected for the Wrester of the Year honor, though.

“I honestly have no idea,” he said. “I guess it’s ‘cause I’m a nice guy.”

Lakeland head coach Jamaal Jones said that actually might have had something to do with it.

“I just think that maybe the coaches were impressed with his sportsmanship and just how he handled himself on the mat,” he said.

Hubbard had an impressive season. Though he competes in a conference with many talented wrestlers, particularly from local powerhouse Nansemond River, he distinguished himself by going undefeated in the conference this season, with only two losses outside the Ironclad.

But he was not consciously aiming for the top conference honor this time around.

“I know last year I always wanted to be the Wrestler of the Year, but this year it didn’t really cross my mind at all,” Hubbard said.

Instead, he said he focused just on wrestling his next match and supporting his team.

Hubbard was disappointed with his fifth-place finish at the regional championships, but the highlight of his year was tied to that event.

“Watching my whole team make it to regionals, that was my favorite part of the year,” he said, referring to an achievement that had eluded Lakeland for a long time.

Jones praised Hubbard’s tenacious approach to the sport, but he spent far more time highlighting his character.

“He’s one of the most selfless kids that I’ve ever coached before,” Jones said. While some good wrestlers are cocky, he said Hubbard is “a very humble guy. I think that’s one of his greatest attributes, in addition to his knowledge of the sport.”

These traits have convinced Jones that Hubbard could make a good coach one day, something he said the young wrestler wants to do.

“He’s done it all season as the captain of the team,” Jones said.

Before Hubbard’s potential coaching days, though, Jones sees him as having the tools to wrestle at the college level.

“So, I’m hoping that he does,” Jones said. “He has good grades, it’s just a matter of personal choice at this point.”

Hubbard said he has not decided where he is attending yet, but is leaning towards St. Andrews University.

And he is definitely thinking about continuing his wrestling career.

“I’m pretty positive I’m going to go for it,” he said.