Hunter Ritter returns to the East Coast this weekend as the University of Minnesota wrestling team travels to the Big 10 Championships at Rutgers University.
The Perryville native has spent the last five years wrestling in the Midwest – the previous four for the University of Wisconsin and the most recent at Minnesota. Ritter qualified for consecutive NCAA Tournaments in his last two years at Wisconsin and aims to end his collegiate career the same way.
“This year, NCAAs are in the city (Minneapolis), so it’d be really cool to compete there at the Vikings’ stadium. That’s a big part, it comes to just ending my career on a high note,” he said. “I’m excited. It’s kind of a weird feeling, it all comes down to this after five years of college.”
Ritter’s final year of college wrestling did not begin as planned. After amassing 63 total wins at Wisconsin, it was fair to expect a strong senior season. But before it began, Ritter suffered a serious injury.
“I had a couple of setbacks. When I first got here, I got into a motorcycle accident,” he said. “I shattered my tibia, had to get a bunch of rods and screws in my leg. That was kind of a mess.”
Ritter’s broken leg sidelined him for six months.
“It was hard because I’d been up here for like two weeks. I transferred up here for my senior year, and then I’m here for barely any time and that happens,” Ritter said. “That was hard, but you just stay the course. You say ‘Well, shoot. I’m here, so I’m going to try to make the best of this season.’ It’s definitely still holding me back some. It’s some adversity to deal with, but it’s gotten way better.”
He finally made his Minnesota debut on Dec. 20 and appreciates the sport now more than ever before.
“Instead of it just being something I do, I know I’m privileged to do it,” Ritter said. “I’m glad to have the opportunity. And being a senior, you just kind of enjoy the moments. There’s not much left.”
Before he wrestled in the Big 10 Conference, Ritter was a three-time Maryland state champion for The John Carroll School in Bel Air. FloWrestling ranked him as the No. 18 overall recruit nationally.
Ritter began wrestling with Rising Sun Junior League.
“The coach I used to have ended up getting cancer and he passed away. His name was Andy Brown. He was a great guy,” he said. “I learned a lot from him. It really built a foundation for my career.”
Ritter attended Charlestown Elementary before Perryville Middle School. Even though he crossed the bridge into Harford County for high school, Ritter’s roots in his home town run deep.
“I graduate in the end of April and I’ll be back in Cecil County in no time at all. I’m looking forward to that.” he said.
Ritter said his father, Jeff, grew up in the home across the street from his own childhood house.
“It’s super cool. My dad grew up across the street. I almost feel bad that I left for college, we’re all so close,” Ritter said. “My older brother, he’s 24, but when he moved out, he literally moved a quarter mile down the street. I can’t see him ever leaving. That’s as far as he’ll get. It’s kind of funny.”
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