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Collegiate update: Hines a role model for Ellsworth athletes

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Let your talent carry you.

That’s what Parker Hines has done.

He used his wrestling talent in tandem with his intelligence to graduate from the United States Air Force Academy where he was a captain for the Falcons and began the 2016-17 season ranked No. 14 in his weight class by FloWrestling.

Hines, who graduated from the academy in May, will return to Colorado Springs to get his masters degree in Civil Engineering at the academy, a program that only accepted two of the five applicants.

“It’s a newer program that they’re offering,” Hines said. “They used to let people go to civilian school as long as it was a certain path, but this program is different; it’s a unique program.”

The age old question for anyone that gets a degree is what will you be able to do with the degree. For Hines, it’s simple: he’ll be a civil engineering officer in the Air Force.

“I’ll be building runways or coordinating plans for the design of bases and whatever else they want to do,” Hines said. “It’s mainly maintenance; there isn’t a lot of design. It should be really cool.”

Hines originally started his post-Ellsworth wrestling career at UW-Madison. He said wrestling practice, wrestling workouts and classes took up so much time that he couldn’t work to pay for tuition.

Something had to give.

“(Transferring to Air Force) was the best option because I could wrestle, serve and get a great degree. It was an opportunity to pay for college,” Hines said. “I chose because I always wanted to serve in some aspect and I never really knew how I wanted to do that. The academy let me do it.”

When Hines got to Colorado, he found success and became a role model, according to Ellsworth head coach Mark Matzek.

“He is an incredible success story,” Matzek said. “Not only for representing Ellsworth wrestling, but the entire community. He is a special young man and a true role model for teenagers growing up in our rural setting.”

The work ethic and responsibility was what impressed Matzek most.

“If you work hard, believe in your schooling, and set high standards for yourself there is no telling how far you can go in life,” Matzek said. “For instance, you could graduate from the United States Air Force Academy and get your master’s degree in civil engineering.”

Hines said transferring ended up being one of the best decisions he would ever make as he met his fiancee, Taiylar Mastey, at the academy. The couple will get married next summer.

The way Hines conducted himself this past year may be even more impressive than the success on the mat that led to being a nationally-ranked wrestler to enter the season.

Hines was defeated in a wrestle off by sophomore 197-pounder Anthony McLaughlin. Hines said that was difficult, but he had to be mature about the situation.

“You want to start really bad, but you also want to see your teammate succeed,” Hines said. “In the end, he deserved it. I wasn’t performing that well. He had great success, but it was good to know that I had his back later in the season.”

Hines eventually got a couple of spot starts when McLaughlin suffered a concussion.

“It was good to know, personally, that I had his back and kept battling because I was ready when he got hurt,” Hines said. “All I could do though was try to be a positive influence on my team.”