Jan. 17, 2014
By David Holman
OhioBobcats.com - Staff Writer
It takes a certain kind of athlete to be a wrestler. It requires raw human strength as it's one of the most exhilarating sports in terms of conditioning. In short, a wrestler needs willpower to be physical and to overcome the challenges that lie before them. Constantly pinning opponent after opponent, Harrison Hightower is no stranger to defeating obstacles standing in his way.
When Hightower was a toddler he was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a rare disorder resulting from a lack of blood flow to the hip joint, ultimately causing the joint to deteriorate over time. As a whole, the leg suffers a loss of strength during adolescent development causing the child to wear leg braces during physical activities.
Hightower had surgery to treat the disorder, but because of the leg braces he adorned as a kid, his left leg now extends longer than his right leg.
Despite his leg discrepancy, Hightower began playing soccer and football at an early age. It wasn't until he was in fourth grade when the Strongsville native first stepped on the mat.
"My dad was big into football and he wanted me to improve my tackling skills. He brought me to the local biddy club." Hightower said. "He ended up liking wrestling so much that he had me stop football altogether and focus primarily on wrestling."
Although Hightower spent most of his free time wrestling, he didn't really consider collegiate wrestling until after his sophomore year of high school.
"I didn't have the greatest freshman year in high school." Hightower said. "I didn't think much of college wrestling and I didn't really think anything like that would happen. But once I won state my sophomore year it kind of set in as a reality."
Hightower attributes his success in the singlet to his dad for pushing him, but also gives due credit to his leg condition.
"I don't really have a strong lower body which causes me not to be so explosive. I had to adapt a bit causing me to have a funkier style that's a little different because I have to compensate for lack of lower body strength." Hightower said. "It's not a typical wrestling style. Sometimes guys aren't used to wrestling like that so it can be an advantage".
Hightower's distinct style has proved dividends for his career. The redshirt junior boasted a 90 percentage winning percentage in high school and he's only one win away from matching his 22 wins in the 2012-13 season. In addition, Hightower is tied for third in the nation with nine pins this season.
Coach Joel Greenlee admires the 165 pounder's spirit and work ethic.
"He's passionate about wrestling," Greenlee said. "He's a hard worker and he gives us a little different look. He's one of the best guys I've ever been around as far as on-top wrestling in terms of getting turns and pins."
Hightower's goals before he graduates include qualifying for the NCAA Championships and capturing a MACChampionship with his teammates. Hightower is a business marketing major and he is the fourth member in his immediate family to attend Ohio, succeeding both his parents and his brother.