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In a match earlier this season, Trea Wills let his emotions get the best of him.
Wills and Franklin County senior Roderick Ageyman were both disqualified from a 132-pound match at the Lexington Lafayette Invitational when they got into a scuffle.
First-year North Hardin coach Joe Burroughs, obviously, was upset with his sen-ior. He knew Wills would be aggressive against Ageyman, but not that to extent.
“I was very upset because he tried to act like that he was defending himself,” Burroughs said. “He got hit and hit the kid back. I don’t want my wrestlers wrestling like that. I don’t mind good, aggressive wrestling, but I don’t want them to cross that line. Trea is a good wrestler and he’s a very aggressive kid and I like that, but he has to learn how to control that aggression.”
The incident earned Wills a two-tournament suspension and looking back, Wills regrets what happened.
“It felt like the kid was being a punk toward me,” Wills said. “We were both coming hard at each other and our emotions just got the best of us. He hit me in my face and I just lost my cool.
“I’ve learned a lot from that,” he added. “I regret it a lot because I missed two matches. That whole time when I couldn’t wrestle, it sucked – I couldn’t stand it. But I’ve learned to keep my cool and not let my emotions get the best of me.”
Wills has learned to keep his emotions in check, which is admirable considering all he’s been through in life.
Wills and his four younger siblings – three brothers, one sister – are foster chil-dren. Their father, Sean, died in a car accident four years ago and their mother doesn’t have custody.
“It has its ups and downs, but I feel like wrestling has been my getaway from that,” Wills said. “It’s a struggle, but you’ve just got to make the best of it. Wrestling gets me away from all the drama and helps me forget about a lot of things.”
Wills said he’s one of the lucky foster kids because he’s only lived in three homes. But he admitted each move has come with challenges – especially the last one, which saw him separated from his siblings.
The siblings currently live in separate homes, but Wills – who turns 18 in two weeks – hopes that will change.
“They’re trying to get my brothers and sister back together,” he said. “We just now recently got separated for the first time, but it’s been really tough. We talk on the phone every night.
“I don’t think anybody really likes it because it’s not your family,” Wills added. “You’ve got be with people you’ve never met in your life. But wrestling is my family.”
It’s also been his release.
Entering Wednesday, Wills was 33-2 and ranked 18th at 132 pounds in the Dec. 25 rankings released by kentuckywrestling.com. Wills has since dropped to 126 pounds.
“It’s been amazing,” Wills said of his season. “I wouldn’t trade my team or my coaches for anything. This has been my best season yet.”
After wrestling for John Hardin, Wills transferred to North Hardin after his latest move.
He said transferring to North Hardin has been one of the best things to happen to him – especially when he knew he’d get a chance to work full-time with Burroughs, who had coached him before in the No-Ox program.
“I try to be a big part of all their lives,” Burroughs said. “Some of them need it more than others. You can teach them how to wrestle and that’s what I’m here to do, but I also want to make a difference in all their lives. I try to make an impact on them, not just with the wrestling skills, but what they can take forward through life.
“I hope, with Trea, that I’ve given him enough to help him – and I think I have,” he added. “My goal is to build a successful program but if I can make a difference in the kids’ lives, that’s far more important to me. I want to make a positive impact on their lives.”
Wills believes his relationship with Burroughs has helped him blossom on and off the mat.
“What other coach do you know is willing take you in and help you get better? He would just do anything for you and it makes me feel great to have that on my side,” Wills said. “He’s somebody I look up to. If I need anything, he’s always there. It’s been a great opportunity for me to be in his life. I’m glad that God put me in this position and I think everything happens for a reason.
“I feel blessed. Even though I’ve gone through a lot, I know I have to keep praying and be faithful,” he added. “God will get you through anything.”
After everything he’s gone through, Wills remains motivated. He knows things won’t just be handed to him – he has to earn them.
“I’ve had a lot of things taken from me in my life,” Wills said. “When I wrestle, I don’t want anything to get taken from me because I’ve worked so hard for it. Going through the things I’ve gone through just help me succeed more than anything.
“(Everything has) made me grow as a person because it showed me that life’s not perfect,” he added. “You’ve got to make the best out of it. I just want to keep winning and see my teammates grow and get better. And I want to see my coach happy because he’s done a lot for us.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.