Ironton’s Sloan a big hit with Rio Grande wrestling
Published 4:04 am Thursday, February 1, 2024
By JIM WALKER
Ben Sloan admits he is a hit man.
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No, no, no. He’s not a mafia hit man or a “hit man” for hire. He’s an actual hit man who hits another man.
The Ironton Fighting Tigers senior has spent his high school career playing football and wrestling. He said the two sports have a lot of similarities that attracted him to play.
“There’s just something about hitting somebody hard. There’s a feeling behind that and just knowing you can beat somebody in a physical sport, there’s no feeling like it,” said Sloan.
It’s that “Hit Man” attitude that helped Sloan to the Division 3 wrestling regional meet last season and has taken him to an extended future in wrestling after signing a national letter-of-intent on Monday with the University of Rio Grande RedStorm.
Rio Grande head coach Jason Schweer was very happy to get Sloan, who he expects to give the RedStorm some flexibility.
“He’s definitely an athlete. Guys like him who are signing up to do all the schooling, those are the guys we can work with. They’re going to be studying, they’re not going to be out hootin’ and hollerin’ and getting in trouble,” said Schweer.
“We can focus whatever small time he does have, we can fine tune the small things and level up and level up until by year three he can win some matches as well as get his classes.”
Schweer said he expects Sloan to wrestle at 150 or 157.
“He goes back and forth,” said Schweer. “For us, I’d say around 149 or 157. We’ll see what happens this summer. If he gets locked in the weight room, maybe 165.”
Sloan said he really didn’t look anywhere but Rio Grande to continue his career.
“They just hit their fourth year and I’ve followed their program all four years. It just seems the most interesting and most fun,” said Sloan.
“It’s a great group of guys . The coach has been wonderful to me, just helping throughout the way. I haven’t talked to many other schools, but it didn’t matter what schools talked to me. Rio Grande was always a step ahead of everybody.”
Sloan has been wrestling since he was in grade school and honing his skills.
“We had a youth program and then we lost our middle school program, but once I got to high school I knew I wanted to get back into wrestling,” said Sloan. “I love football, so don’t get me wrong. But wrestling has just always been my favorite sport.”
Besides hitting, there are some other factors that speak to Sloan and endear the sport to him, especially the numerous weight classes that pit a wrestler against an opponent of similar size.
“It’s kind of your pick. There’s a lot of advantages to being this weight or that weight. There’s a lot of versatility to it and there’s nothing else like it. It’s the toughest sport. Six minutes feels like six hours. It’s grueling.,” said Sloan.
“When you step on the mat it lets you know who is bad and who is the baddest. We have a bad group of dudes on our team.”
With his college future secure, Sloan can now focus on the season at hand and trying to win the Ohio Valley Conference meet.
“My goal is the same. I just want to benefit our team to try and win our OVC title. We’ve come up short the past couple of years and it’s been a heartbreak every year. It’s come down to one or two matches. So, my goal is to finish out the year strong, just like I expect my teammates to do and they expect me to do,” said Sloan.
After the regular season and postseason tournament, Sloan wants to get stronger and get a chance to spend more time with his family.
“Once I go off (to college) I’m not going to see them as much, so I want to just be with them and get ready for next wrestling season,” said Sloan.
Being part of a close-knit family that includes a strong bond with his father Matt, Ben Sloan played football just like his father but wrestling is not a sport they share.
“My dad never did wrestle, but my uncle did. It’s kind of weird that I’m doing my uncle’s sport and not my dad’s,” he said.
However, his father has influenced Ben’s choice of a major at Rio Grande. He plans to major in Biology.
“It’s the gateway into the medical field and I want to follow my dad’s footsteps and go into a medical program. That’s kind of my goal,” said Sloan.
Now that’s something that hits right at home. But that’s something anyone would expect from the Hit Man.