Junior returning to form after missing season

A torn right ACL sustained prior to his sophomore school year temporarily prevented Ryan Hammond from adding to his athletic reputation.

With his Whiteland football teammates at the Indianapolis Colts’ complex in June 2015, Hammond — a running back — attempted to make a cut during a particular drill when he fell to the ground.

Hammond didn’t account for a single rushing attempt during football season. Missing wrestling season after advancing to the State Finals as a freshman in the 182-pound class proved every bit as difficult.

“Sitting out was pretty tough,” Hammond said. “Just not being able to participate with my best friends out there. It was my brother’s (David) senior year, so I didn’t get to play football with him or wrestle with him.”

Missing those two seasons made Hammond all the more determined.

The junior demonstrated such drive this past football season by carrying the football 115 times for 849 yards — a 7.4-yard average — and five touchdowns. Hammond also caught five passes for 50 yards.

Dave Thompson, now in his 26th season as Whiteland’s wrestling coach (he was a Warrior assistant for 11 seasons before that), has watched daily as Hammond works to regain any measure of conditioning or technique he lost while injured.

Competing this season at 195 pounds, Hammond sported a 12-0 record prior to the Warriors being part of the Super 6 at Indianapolis Ritter High School on Saturday. He recently won his division at the Mid-State Conference meet at Franklin.

“Ryan had a great football season this year, but got beat up. He had some knee issues and some headaches early (in wrestling season),” Thompson said. “The doctors didn’t release him to wrestle until right before Christmas, so we didn’t have him the first half of the season.

“Most of the kids you look at that he’s going to wrestle in the tournament series have wrestled 25 to 30 times. He’s only been on the mat 12 times. He’s not where he needs to be yet, but is getting closer every day. By the time we get to sectional, regional and semistate, I think we’ll be OK.”

Two years ago, Hammond finished with a record of 36-5.

He won the 182 class at the Mooresville Sectional, took third at regional a week later and placed fourth at the Evansville Semistate. At 15, he had earned the opportunity to wrestle on the floor of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Matched against Western High School senior Corey Hinkle in the first round of the State Finals, Hammond lost, 7-1. Hinkle went on to be state runner-up, narrowly losing (8-6) to Chase Osborn of Penn in the title match.

“Making state as a freshman was a good thing as far as confidence goes. Just knowing I can make it,” Hammond said. “I want to push as far into the tournament as I can.”

Thomas, who has coached four individual state champions in his time as Whiteland’s head coach, also is confident Hammond can again find his way to downtown Indianapolis the third weekend of February.

“When you look at him and other 195-pounders, he’s thicker. His chest and shoulders are bigger, so he’s very competitive as far as size,” Thompson said. “Ryan has the right frame of mind and he works on technique.

“He’s not real fancy, but what he does he does very well. Ryan is a pretty good technician; he has good strength and good quickness. Everything he needs to go pretty far.”

The Hammond file

Name: Ryan Hammond

Age: 17

Born: Franklin

Family: Parents David and Jolynn; sister Jessica, 24; brother David, 18

Favorite TV show: “Friends”

Favorite food: Cheeseburgers

Favorite movie: “Remember the Titans”

Favorite athlete: Bo Jackson

Favorite team: University of Oregon football

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.