PIGEON FORGE — Pigeon Forge’s Ethan Sutton is going to do something no one has ever done before, and that is wrestle for Lincoln Memorial University.
The Railsplitters begin their first ever season as a wrestling program this coming school year, and Sutton signed to join the squad in the Pigeon Forge High School library on Monday.
“We are super proud of his work,” Pigeon Forge head wrestling coach Greg Foreman said. “He has shown in the last two or three years that it is not so much the god-given talent that you are given, but it is the god-given work ethic that he is giving you to be able to get to this point. He has put countless hours in over the last few years, and it has shown.”
Sutton has a couple team championships with the Tigers, but last month he won the DI class A-AA 195 pound weight class to earn his first individual state championship as a senior.
Lincoln Memorial head wrestling coach Andy Bricker was excited to see Sutton’s progression this year, and he is excited to add him to the team for the Railsplitters.
“I have made contacts with high school coaches. They give us information about their kids and the ones they feel special about, and everybody here (at Pigeon Forge) feels highly about Ethan,” Bricker said.
“We have watched him wrestle and found out what kind of person he is academically and athletically. For me trying to build a program from the ground up, I want people like Ethan. I want people whose goals are set high and do everything they can to improve academically and athletically.”
For Sutton, he knew that as soon as he set foot on campus that it is the place he wanted to be.
The opportunity is something he is thankful for, and he looks to create value for himself as a wrestler and for the rest of his life.
“After meeting with Coach Bricker and going on a tour and seeing the town, it seemed like a really good opportunity,” Sutton said. “It isn’t a super traditional approach signing up to wrestle for a new program, but it feels right. The Bible says ‘walk by faith, not by sight’ and that is how I feel with Lincoln Memorial. This opportunity given to me seems like something I can use to set up my future and better myself.”
He knows college wrestling will be much different, and that is why he has been working with previous Pigeon Forge wrestlers who wrestle in college now to make sure it is a seamless transition.
Right now he weighs about 189 pounds, since he is preparing for a national tournament in Virginia Beach in about a month, but this fall he will likely be slotted in the 184 pound weight class for Lincoln Memorial.
Everyone will be adjusting due to the program being brand new, and while that was a selling point, it wasn’t the main reason why Sutton chose to join the Railsplitters team.
“It is something that goes with it (being a new program). It wasn’t a selling point though,” Sutton said. ‘The first time I talked to coach, and he asked me about it, but as far as my experience goes, I will be a freshman so it doesn’t matter what grade everyone else will be in. I am going to get the same experience regardless, and it being a new program that doesn’t really impact me.”
The hope is that Sutton and his new teammates can bring Lincoln Memorial’s wrestling reputation to among the elite schools in Division II.
Sutton also hopes to have as much or more success as he has in high school due to wrestling at a powerhouse like Pigeon Forge.
However things turn out though, he is just thankful for the chance to continue doing what he loves.
“I am bringing people in that I know can work together and have the same common goals,” Bricker said. “These gentlemen are going to be the guys who push each other and hold each other accountable. They are going to do what they need to do to get our reputation where we want it.”