Hunter shoots for college glory
Wildcat wrestler first to sign for next-level intent
Cassville wrestler Gabe Hunter is one of the most unorthodox wrestlers on the Wildcats’ roster, and his path to signing a letter of intent to William Penn University was no different.
Hunter is the first wrestler out of the Cassville program to sign to a college, and his aspiration to compete at the next level was reflected in how he chose the Statesmen.
“They were the first school to look at me, and they gave me a good offer,” he said. “I didn’t go and visit or anything. I did some research on the school and I like the program. I am excited to wrestle in college. I have a rush to be better and better, and to find new competition and wrestle more.”
Aaron Scott, William Penn head wrestling coach, came to Cassville for Hunter’s signing on Friday, as he’s excited to get the Wildcat standout.
“We sent a survey out about a year or six months ago, and Gabe filled one out,” he said. “We then started following each other. We had some good conversations with Gabe and his coaches, and he has a lot of things that we value in our athletes.”
Hunter wrestled at 138 pounds this season, earning a Big 8 title, second at districts but fourth at sectionals, one win away from state qualification with the changes due to COVID-19. Hunter competed in state in 2020 but did not place.
“Gabe is a hard worker and has great work ethic,” Scott said. “He is a man of character and integrity, and he has a great desire to get better. All these things are non-negotiable for us in our recipe to be successful.”
Scott said he has seen Hunter wrestle on film, and he enjoys watching the Wildcat’s unique style.
“He’s a little bit different,” Scott said. “Sometimes, great wrestlers wrestle in a way that opponents cannot anticipate what they are going to do, and Gabe is good at doing things unexpectedly.”
Nathan Fortner, Cassville wrestling coach, said he will miss his senior in coming years.
“I’m extremely happy for Gabe,” he said. “I think I have had all of JD [Hunter’s] kids in my program one way or another, so it’s really cool to see Gabe go to the next level. As our first collegiate signee, he’s still paving the way for future Wildcats. He will motivate kids to see there are steps you can take after high school to do what you love.
“We will miss him a lot. He’s very unorthodox in everything he does, and that brings a lot of entertainment to the wrestling room.”
Hunter said while he’s excited to go to William Penn, a piece of him will always be in Cassville. He also hopes others will follow in his footsteps
“There’s no way not to miss the Cassville team,” he said. “For those wanting to wrestle in college, listen to coach and do your best. Work as hard as you can and enjoy it, because it’s over before you know it.”
Hunter is the son of JD Hunter and Allien Freeman, and he lives in Cassville. He plans to major in industrial technology and carpentry.