Athlete of the Week: Chiefs off to hot start with Harmon

A tough end to the 2011-12 season has served as a source of motivation in 2012-13 for North Myrtle Beach senior wrestler Hampton Harmon.

The 170-pounder suffered a one-point loss in the Class 3A individual tournament, settling for a fifth-place showing in the state. Not bad for most, but Harmon wants more.

“It was a heart-breaking to get eliminated with a one-point loss,” Harmon said. “I hate getting that close to something and not getting it, but it only made me hungrier for this season.”

Harmon’s version of the “Hunger Games” began almost immediately after the difficult defeat. He joined the Lowcountry Wrestling Academy in Charleston, making the four-hour round trip twice a week while working out with others on the Grand Strand. From running to the weight room, Harmon kept his eye on the ultimate goal.

“You have to tryout for the (LWA) and I was glad that I made it,” Harmon said. “I worked out a lot with the coaches and (club members) down there, and I had some partners here I worked out with. When I wasn’t doing that, I was running and lifting a lot, anything I could do to help me get better this season.”

And so far the hard work is paying off. Not only is Harmon off to a strong start, going 19-0 so far for the Chiefs, but his team is also off to an impressive run. That’s just as important to Harmon, who endured the disappointing of North Myrtle Beach missing out on the playoff last season by finishing third in the region.

“My personal goal is to go undefeated and I want to win the state title,” Harmon said. “But I also want to see our team win the region and go far. Getting beat by teams in our region is not something we’re taking lying down. We feel like it’s our time to dominate.”

Harmon and the Chiefs got their chance to make a statement in the region early when three-time reigning region champion St. James came to town last week. The Chiefs not only defeated the Sharks, they did so by a 58-9 score to establish themselves as the team to beat in Region 8-3A.

But the Chiefs (15-4) soon got a wake-up call in their own tournament, the North Myrtle Beach Duals, which featured top teams from around the state and East Coast. The Chiefs finished sixth in the 16-team event, well short of their goal but encouraging nonetheless based on a few close calls with state powers.

“It showed us that we still have some work to do to get where we want to be, but we’re not too far away from some really good teams,” Harmon said. “I think we lost two matches by two or three points, so that’s only one match (difference). If we work together we can be one of the best teams in 3A.”

With a little luck and a lot of hard work, Harmon could close out his high school career with both team and state titles to his credit.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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