When you talk with Somerset senior Tyler Hantsbarger, he rarely makes himself the topic of the conversation.
He’s quick to talk about his coaches, his teammates, his mom, his best friend, his co-captains, his little brother, etc. And he gives them all a share of the credit for his wrestling success.
At the 2020 New Richmond Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 11, Hantsbarger earned his 100th career win in the opening round of the tournament. He then won four more matches in winning the 126-pound championship of the tournament. On Jan. 25, Hantsbarger was named the Most Valuable Wrestler at the Shell Lake Invitational.
Hantsbarger becomes the 16th Somerset High School wrestler to reach 100 career wins and he’s the third in three seasons. Jared Grahovac reached the mark last season and Preston Anez did the season before. Two seasons prior, Logan Peterson reached the 100-win milestone.
While many of the top wrestlers in the area have been wrestling since pre-school days, Hantsbarger was a late bloomer in the sport. He wrestled in kindergarten. Then his dad, who was in the U.S. Army, was stationed at Fort Bragg.
“Fort Bragg didn’t have (wrestling) so I played hockey for three years,” Hantsbarger said.
The family moved back to Somerset when Hantsbarger was in fifth grade. He then gave wrestling a try, but it didn’t hold his interest. He decided to give it another try in eighth grade.
“I found I really liked it,” he said.
He didn’t have huge success as a freshman, but he made major progress each season, reaching the WIAA State Championships last year.
“He’s determined, hard working, committed to his body and the development of his craft,” said Somerset coach Ali Peterson. “He constantly evolves. He keeps digging and finds the next thing to add to make him stronger.”
A tipping point in Hantsbarger’s career may have been the 2019 Middle Border Conference. He was the top seed at 126 pounds, but ended up placing fourth. He said that motivated him to make the strong finish to his season. And it supplies kindling for this year’s tournament.
“After last year, I have a chip on my shoulder. I learned I can’t have off matches,” Hantsbarger said.
His goals for this season include a return trip to state and placing among the top three in his state bracket. “It would be really nice to make the state finals,” he said.
Hantsbarger was sure to share the credit for his success.
“A lot of the achieving of my goals comes from everybody who (works with him in the practice room). I’d be nothing without the guidance of my coaches,” he said. He included his teammates in that group too, particularly his workout partner, Zach Maitrejean.
After graduation, Hantsbarger plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to major in pre-nursing. He said he’s unsure whether he’ll wrestle in college, because he wants to make sure he has sufficient time for his studies. Nursing runs in his family, with his mom, aunt and several others working as nurses. The interest in nursing runs true to Hantsbarger’s character.
“I really like to help people. One of my ultimate goals is to help make other people happy,” he said. “Coaching youth wrestling, mission trips, they’ve helped me figure out it’s awesome to help people.”
Hantsbarger said he’s known since he was young that he wanted to go into the medical field. He originally thought about being a doctor, but he’s drawn to the interaction nurses have with patients.
“Nurses do more of the hands-on work. It’s more personal and I like that,” he said.
The person Hantsbarger wants to emulate most is his mom, who works as a travel nurse for 3M.
“My mom raised me to who I am. I adore my mom. She’s an amazing person,” he said.
Hantsbarger has two younger siblings. His sister, Tiffany, is a goaltender for the Western Wisconsin Stars hockey team and an SHS sophomore. His brother, Trevor, is a fifth grader.
Peterson said one of the best times to see Hantsbarger’s character is when he’s helping to coach Somerset’s youth wrestlers.
“He’s so approachable. Kids gravitate toward good people. He’s considerate, thoughtful, very sincere,” Peterson said. “He’s a very humble young man. The beauty is, you see it not only in his words, but his actions.”