The Gazette Wrestling Lower Weights Peak Performer of the Year: Britton Holmes, Peyton

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Photo - Peyton's Britton Holmes is The Gazette Peak Performer Wrestler of the Year in the lower weights. Pictured Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at Peyton High School.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Peyton's Britton Holmes is The Gazette Peak Performer Wrestler of the Year in the lower weights. Pictured Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at Peyton High School. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Peyton High School never had a state champion in wrestling until Britton Holmes came along.

For good measure, he won two of them.

After breaking through with a win in the 138-pound class in 2016, Holmes followed that up with a 5-3 victory by decision in the 145 final in February to cap his high school career.

Toughness played a big role as Holmes battled through this season, garnering The Gazette Wrestling Lower Weights Peak Performer of the Year honor.

He injured his shoulder. He hurt his wrist. He caught pneumonia and spent a few days in the hospital. So fighting off a fever the night before the state tournament must've seemed like no big deal.

"I had more confidence this year (than last)," Holmes said. "I owned a state title, and I wanted to defend it. I was looking at it as 'people are wanting to take what's mine.'"

Peyton's coach said Holmes exuded dedication and commitment this season, and has always been hardworking - ever since he was a little kid.

Coach would know - Peyton wrestling is led by Holmes' dad, Ed.

"When he wrestles, he's aggressive, keeps a high pace and is very technical," Ed Holmes said. "(Britton's success) was great as a father first of all, and then to be allowed the opportunity to coach him as well, it's been pretty amazing."

But coaching his son wasn't a complete walk in the park.

"One of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," Ed Holmes said of coaching Britton, adding he was often tougher on his son than other wrestlers. "But I wouldn't trade it for the world. We have a coach-wrestler relationship that's unbeatable."

The calmest Ed felt all season when coaching his son was in a place you might not expect - at the state finals.

"I just got to sit back and enjoy and not worry about the whole scheme of things - him and the rest of the team," he said. "There was nothing left to do on my end, just sit back and watch him."

Britton started wrestling at age 3, after his dad asked if he wanted to wrestle. He's loved it ever since.

The two-time state champion has his eyes on another prize: gold in the 2020 Olympics. He'll attend Northern Michigan University to train in its Greco-Roman wrestling program.

Exposed to the style in eighth grade, it immediately caught Britton's eye.

"I loved it more than any other style of wrestling. The big throws and the fight of the match really got me intrigued," he said. "It's all upper body - throw or be thrown."

Northern Michigan is one of only a few schools that has an Olympic training center connected to it. That was a big selling point for Britton, who wants to get his education done and be able to remain focused on both his schoolwork and wrestling at the same time.

While at Northern Michigan, Holmes plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice. One day, he'd like to be a police officer.