Michael Hines isn't the most gifted athlete Olentangy Orange High School wrestling coach Brian Nicola has worked with, but Nicola said the senior captain's commitment to the sport is second to none.
Hines is a two-time Division I district qualifier who has earned a 26-10 record this season while competing at 126 and 132 pounds.
"Michael isn't a freak athlete, but the thing that sets him apart from a lot of wrestlers is his tremendous work ethic," Nicola said. "He puts a ton of time into the sport and he maximizes his abilities by utilizing a superior technique on the mat. He's intelligent and he has a big skill set to draw from."
Hines said he learned most of his wrestling skills from Jim Edwards and Tommy Rowlands, both of whom won two state titles in high school, at Westland and Ready, respectively, before becoming college All-Americans -- Edwards at Louisiana State and Rowlands at Ohio State.
But Hines said his work ethic is inspired by his parents, Greg and Ann. Greg is an information technology consultant for Accenture who previously worked with clients around the globe as a consultant for IBM.
"My parents set the standard for me to work hard in everything I do and to get good grades," said Michael, who has a 4.3 cumulative GPA. "My dad has had the biggest influence on me. He's taught me that when you work hard it pays off in the end because you know you're getting the best out of yourself."
Ann worked as a nurse before falling ill with fibromyalgia, osteoporosis and a seizure disorder over the last 10 years of her life.
On April 15, 2012 -- Ann's 53rd birthday -- Greg and Michael returned home together from a wrestling practice to find that she had suffered a seizure. She was taken to a hospital, where she died more than a month later.
"My mom is the most caring person I've ever known and she taught me to treat other people the way you want to be treated," Michael said. "I believe that she's always watching over me and that I'll see her again eventually. It was tough to lose her and it was pretty shocking. One day I was talking to her and the next day she was gone. Losing her that way has taught me to take advantage of the time that I have by always doing my best."
Greg is a longtime competitive runner and his brother, Wes, won a Division III state wrestling title for Marion Pleasant as a senior in 1981. However, Michael didn't follow in either of their footsteps until he was cut from his basketball team in seventh grade.
He didn't beat any of his opponents in wrestling that season, but he fell in love with the sport and began taking lessons from Edwards the following offseason. He also has worked with Rowlands.
While attending Westerville Central, Michael placed fifth in a sectional as a freshman before placing second at sectional and sixth at district as a sophomore.
"I was pretty bad at wrestling my first season and the only matches I won were by forfeit because the other teams didn't have anyone in my weight class," he said. "But I really liked something about the culture of wrestling, and when I started working with Jim Edwards, he made it a lot of fun and I started getting a lot better."
Greg and Michael moved to Lewis Center so Michael could attend Orange as a junior after lack of funding forced Central to cut some Advanced Placement classes.
As a junior, Michael went 24-13 at 113. He placed third in a sectional and went 1-2 at district.
"It was a tough transition because I'm not an extrovert and I had a hard time meeting people outside of wrestling," he said. "I was cutting about 12 pounds a week to get down to 113 and it wasn't enjoyable. I was uptight about wrestling that year and I was discouraged when I didn't make it to state."
Michael was voted a team captain this season.
"It's a big honor, especially since this is only my second year here," he said. "I just try to lead by example by doing my best every day in practice."
An avid traveler who has vacationed in more than a dozen countries, including China, Egypt and India, Michael is planning to visit Russia with family this spring and spend more than a month traveling across Western Europe with friends and family this summer.
He has been accepted to Texas A&M, but his first choice is to wrestle and study nuclear or chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"I would like to be a doctor, possibly a plastic surgeon, because my mom was a nurse before she got sick," he said. "Before I graduate, though, I want to make it to the state tournament and hopefully place there."
Regardless of whether his son reaches those goals, Greg said Michael has earned his respect.
"It was an extremely sudden and difficult challenge for Michael to lose his mother and then move to a new school in the same year, but he's handled it tremendously well," Greg said. "He's completely self-motivated and he strives for excellence in everything he does. I'm most proud of him for how hard he works. He gives everything his best effort, and for me, that's much more impressive than how many pins or wins he gets."