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      #WrestlingWednesday Feature: Drew Hughes of Lowell on Task for Elusive State Title

      Brought to you by EI Sports

      Drew Hughes has already had the type of high school wrestling career many dream of. He finished second in the state his freshman season and fifth last year. But Hughes is far from satisfied.
      Hughes doesn’t aim for fifth place. His goal is a championship — nothing less.
      Hughes sets the bar high for himself. Anything less than a state championship will be a disappointment.
      Last state tournament might have been a turning point in Hughes’ career. He had beaten Lawrence North’s Tommy Cash and Merriville’s Jacob Covaciu during the season. He topped Cash 4-0 and Covaciu by technical fall. But after he was pinned in the first minute of the second round of state by Center Grove senior Tyler Fleener (via the spladle), he had to watch Cash claim the 138-pound title with a 5-3 decision over Covaciu.
      “That has motivated me,” Hughes said. “The fact that I was there just watching, and not being out there wrestling in the finals pushes me every day. I realized I had to get better on my feet. I needed to work harder on my all-around technique.”
      Hughes has done just that.
      Hughes is one of the best in the state from the top position. He can turn almost anyone he faces. But now he’s added a new dimension to his repertoire. He has greatly improved his attacks from the neutral position. He has become more confident on his feet.
      The improved performance on his feet has led to a 13-0 start to the season for the Lowell junior. He has not given up a point, and has pinned all 13 wrestlers who have stepped on the mat against him.
      “My goal is a state title,” Hughes said. “But I also want to go through the year without getting scored on, and by pinning everyone I face.”
      Hughes is currently the top-ranked 160 pounder in the state. The No. 2-ranked grappler at 160, Crown Point’s Darden Schurg, is one Hughes will likely see several times during the tourney. The two are in the same sectional, regional and semistate.
      “We have grown up wrestling each other,” Hughes said. “We have wrestled each other since we were 8-years old.”
      Inside the Lowell wrestling room, Hughes has been training with Eric McGill, a former two-time state champion for Munster High School. He won the 125-pound class as a junior and 140 as a senior. McGill went on to wrestle for Cornell University.
      “I wrestle with him quite a bit,” McGill said. “.He has good practice partners, but most of the live wrestling is done with me. When he was smaller I could beat him. Now he’s bigger and he’s getting the better of me. It’s fun, but he’s a beast now.”
      Hughes has great respect for McGill.
      “He has been a really good influence on me,” Hughes said. “He’s one of the best partners you could have.”
      Hughes’ older brother Kenny has also been a good influence. Kenny was ranked No. 2 last year at 160 pounds. He lost in the same round of state as Drew, and ended up finishing seventh.
      Hughes has jumped from the 120 pound class as a freshman, to 160 now. This year he isn’t having to cut weight, unlike past seasons. That decision has allowed this year to be his most fun so far.
      “I love wrestling because it’s a fun sport,” Hughes said. “And when you’re not cutting weight you’re not in that bad mood that cutting can some times lead to. I’m able to focus a lot more on wrestling now.”
      With weight no longer an issue, Hughes is concentrating on getting back under the lights. His freshman year he was defeated by Warren Central’s Deondre Wilson 6-2 in the championship match at 120 pounds.
      “I was hoping I was going to be wresting for a title last year,” Hughes said. “But I remember as a freshman that it was a great experience. Looking back I know I was a little shocked to be there wrestling under the lights. I really felt I could have won, but I froze up. If I get there again, I’m not going to get so caught up with the atmosphere. I’m going to go out and do what I do, and just wrestle.”

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