From bed-ridden to tournament champion.
Bolivar senior Haryl Starkey tore through the competition at the 45th Annual Kinloch Wrestling Tournament on Dec. 28, winning the 182-pound division.
Starkey went 7-0, all victories coming by pinfall. He scored a 50-second pin over CBC’s Jordan Davis in the finals.
"I expected the matches to get harder as the tournament went along," Starkey said. "I prepared myself how I would for every match and... ended up pinning all my guys."
Not too shabby for an individual who just a few weeks earlier was battling strep throat and the flu.
"I started off practicing for not even a week and I got a fever, and all of a sudden it started getting worse and worse," Starkey said. "Then, I couldn't even stay awake for a whole day, and I realized I had the flu. They gave me some stuff to get over it, but it didn't help. So I went back and they realized I had strep throat on top of the flu."
Starkey said he was out of action – and school – for about two weeks. He was “sleeping all day,” and didn’t have much of an appetite. He estimated he lost about 15 pounds.
"I didn't have much fat to start with, so 15 pounds is a lot to lose," Starkey said. "When I came back, I wasn't myself. I didn't have the energy, the strength. I just felt awful. I just tried to eat and get the energy back. My weight just stayed down."
Starkey said he tried to regain weight by eating the “right” food: good protein, good carbs. During his recovery period, he tried to consume a half gallon of milk per day.
Starkey worked his way to full health and was able to participate in two duals before the Kinloch Tournament.
A senior, Starkey didn’t get a chance to compete on the varsity level until last season. Bolivar’s program is less than 15 years old, but it already has a strong tradition.
The Liberators have finished in the top 10 in the state championships five straight seasons, and earned their first team trophy last spring by finishing fourth in Class 2. Gareth Behr gave the Liberators their first individual title by winning the 220-pound class.
Starkey reached the “Round of 8” at 170 last year, just one win away from earning a medal. He added that he’s thought about dropping back down to his former class after the unanticipated weight loss from the flu.
"Going into this year he's still relatively unknown," said Bolivar coach Mel Hughes. "To start the year off, we're excited. You got a Round of 8 guy back and you think it's time to move him into medals and contend for championships. Then, the illness hits.
“He's still not quite full strength, which I guess in a way makes his tournament win even more exciting.”