Dalton High School’s Tyler Hunt is off to the U.S. Naval Academy in July. The senior wrestler from Sugar Valley is off to Maryland in July to begin his career as a Midshipman.

“Originally, going into my junior year, I was open to (anything),” Hunt said. “I wanted to find out and see what all my options were. After I placed really good at a national tournament, (the Naval Academy) offered to me.”

Hunt has maintained a passion for the military for some time, stemming from his love of planes and his father’s military background. Hunt’s father served in the United States Marine Corps and was also a wrestler.

“We had tried a bunch of different sports,” Hunt said. “When I started wrestling, it really clicked with me when I was little. I fell in love with it. The 1-on-1 competition … you can put in all the work you want for yourself and it’ll reflect on the mat.”

The Naval Academy provides a full-ride scholarship, where everything is paid for. However, the all-expenses covered experience comes with the condition of, upon completion of college, graduates are expected to serve in the armed forces.

“It was just kind of that gut feeling,” Hunt said. “I had a gut feeling I knew I would go there because that’s just what I wanted. No matter where else I went, nobody was going to change my mind.”

Hunt spent three years at Sonoraville High School before transferring to Dalton High School for his senior year. He sports a high school championship ring on his finger, when he captured the state title in Class AAA while still at Sonoraville.

“The most important thing that I’ve learned is that hard work will pay off in the long run,” Hunt said. “If you keep working at it, it will pay off eventually, no matter what.”

Recently, Hunt placed second at high school wrestling nationals in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Hunt finished with five victories, but came up just short in the final.

“It’s crazy, building up to it, all the support and all the matches,” Hunt said. “You can’t get too focused on the end, like the finals. You have to take it one match at a time, one guy at a time. That’s what I had to learn to get to that point.”

Hunt said he is looking forward to being on his own for the first time.

“I’m excited to have a fresh start on my own,” Hunt said. “I think my parents have raised me the best way they can and a way to where I’ll be successful when I go off on my own. I’m excited, maybe a little bit scared … but they’ll always be there for me to talk to and give me advice.”

Hunt has visited the Naval Academy and noted several aspects about the campus that stood out.

“The place is beautiful, there’s so much history there, the coaches and the facilities are so nice,” Hunt said. “I love the military lifestyle. It’s a brotherhood.”

Hunt said the idea of one day joining the military developed while in the lower tiers of primary school.

“It was in the back of my mind that I wanted to serve my country,” Hunt said. “Then in high school, when they offered me, I get the chance to wrestle, go to college and serve. When I got that opportunity to do all three things at once, I really jumped on that.”

Hunt said his parents fully support his decision on the Navy.

“My mom’s a little bit more on the hesitant side at first, but once the coaches talked to (my parents) and she visited up there, she knows that’s the place for me,” Hunt said. “She fully supports the decision and my dad always has. They’re both ready and they know I’ll be fine.”

Hunt gave thanks to his parents, Greg and Randa Hunt, Steve Hamilton from Sonoraville High School, Michael and Josh Keefe from Dalton High School and Matthew Pitts from Grindhouse Youth wrestling.

“They’ve made me the person I am today and the wrestler I’ve become and I wouldn’t be here without them,” Hunt said.

After the Naval Academy, Hunt said he would like to like to enter into the Marine Corps and become a pilot.