It seemed like Briar Potter made history for East Hamilton every time he stepped onto the wrestling mat these last four years.
He was a four-year starter and qualified for the state meet in all of those years. He was the Hurricanes first state medalist when he finished fourth at 106 pounds as a sophomore.
He is surely the winningest Hurricane with 98 wins and he’s the first who will continue his wrestling career at the college level.
Potter, the 18-year-old son of Sam and Danielle Potter, had a tough final two years as he spent more time on the bench with injuries than on the mat competing, but he more than made an impression on several college coaches and that was one major reason that he’ll be headed to Murfreesboro in the fall where he’ll be a member of MTSU’s team.
The Blue Raiders are members of the National College Wrestling Association, which basically isn’t on the Division I level, but several schools like MTSU have nice endowment programs and that allows guys like Potter to wrestle at the next level while still getting a good education.
“He came to us in the eighth grade and has been making a positive difference ever since,” said Ryan Cooper, the East Hamilton head coach, before the signing ceremony took place Wednesday morning in the commons area between the two gyms.
“He was a four-year starter and a two-year captain. He was our first four-time state qualifier and our first medalist. And now he’s the first to wrestle in college.
“He’s done so much for this program. Even in the last two years when he battled some tough injuries, he was a positive part of the team. He suffered a torn hip flexor as a junior and he broke his hand in a match on January 2nd of this year.
“He somehow finished the match after the hand injury and that was his first loss of the season. I really thought he might be finished, but he came back and finished third in the region to earn his fourth straight trip to Franklin,” the coach praised his determination to go back one more time.
“And even though wrestling season has been over for several months, he works with the middle-school kids and he’s always working to help them get better. I think he’s planning to major in education with hopes to coach one day. I’m hoping he’ll come back and take my place one day,” the coach laughed.
“MTSU has a nice endowment for wrestling, which allows a lot of kids like Briar to wrestle in college. But I have no doubt that he’ll do just fine there and that he’ll be able to help them out next year,” Cooper concluded.
Troy Steffy is an assistant coach at MTSU and has been on the Blue Raider staff for the past seven years. He and fellow MTSU coaches were convinced that Potter could help them, long before he suffered the first injury.
“I feel confident that he’ll contribute at 125 pounds right off the bat and we’re hoping he’ll be a force at that weight. We want anyone who is willing to work hard and we’re real familiar with the kind of young man we’re getting,” Steffy said while the crowd was gathering.
Briar – that really is his real middle name – celebrated his 18th birthday on March 23. He’s been to Murfreesboro on more than one occasion and he really likes what he’s experience so far.
“I just feel like it fit me best as it’s more than just wrestling. I want to get a good education and I’ll be able to do that there. I’m planning to major in Physical Education so I can coach, but the coach from Wilson Central was the first one to contact me and he’s the one who put me in touch with the MTSU coaches,” the slender senior expressed.
“I’m hoping to be a starter for them next year as that’s my goal.
I was fortunate to be able to come back after breaking my hand in January. They told me I needed surgery at first, but I only needed a cast and I was out of it in four weeks.
“That match was my first loss after 19 wins and I finished at 24-4 with my only other losses being in the region and two at the state. But I have to get ready for the next level and that’s what I’m doing right now.
Summer is when you get better and hard summer work makes winter champions,” he concluded.
Briar has two sisters – Shelbie and Aubree – and a brother named Logan.
Potter was one of three seniors on this year’s East Hamilton squad that sent nine individuals to the state tournament. The other seniors were Blake Cason and Matt Meeks.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)