Athlete of Week: Ward making a name on mat

If you haven’t heard the name Tyler Ward, you will, especially if you happen to wrestle in the 113-pound class in the state of South Carolina.

The Socastee High junior is off to a 7-0 start to the season and was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his championship in the West Brunswick (NC) Invitational.

One of the reasons local folks might not be familiar with Ward is that he has wrestled only one full season in South Carolina. He grew up in Pennsylvania, one of the top states for the sport, and didn’t move to the Myrtle Beach area until his freshman year.

“I started wrestling when I was like 3. I had a older brother in wrestling and I watched him and fell in love with it at an early age,” said Ward, whose younger brother also wrestles for the Braves.

“I moved here my freshman year and it was a bit of an adjustment. The South Carolina kids are a lot stronger, but in Pennsylvania it’s all about technique. That’s my style. I was taught technique beats strength every time.”

Unfortunately the same rule does not hold true on the football field, where Ward saw his sophomore season halted before it began. After making a run to the Lower State and falling one win shy of a state tournament berth, Ward was playing pickup football two weeks before his sophomore wrestling campaign and suffered a broken wrist that spelled the end of his season.

“My goal is to make it states this year, and I think I can do it,” Ward said. “I almost made it my freshman year, and last year I broke my wrist and missed the whole season. It was bad because I had been training and I was ready to have a great season. Sitting on the sidelines was the worst thing I’ve had to do.”

Ward spent the entire offseason rehabbing the injury and working on the technique that has helped him get off to a perfect start so far. He also ran cross country in the fall to improve his conditioning and maintain his weight class. His toughest test thus far came in a pair of meetings with Marion, which Ward won but was also challenged enough to know that he is finally 100 percent back.

“I haven’t been worrying about my wrist as much as my technique,” Ward said. “The whole time I was out I wasn’t able to work on my technique so I’ve been focusing on that and staying in shape. I ran cross country and I’m going to run track. Endurance has helped me a lot this year. That’s how I won that Marion match, by wearing the guy down.”

Ward has been wearing down and mowing down other foes with relative ease, and he is a real threat to make it to states in February. Don’t be surprised if everyone knows his name by then.

Photo courtesy of SHS Athletics

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