Curtis Hulstine saw a picture of himself and was shocked.
Motivated to lose weight, the 2010 Ceres High School grad decided to make a comeback in a sport he’s dedicated countless hours to since the age of five.
Hulstine wrestled in the 125-pound division during his final season with the Bulldogs and at 112s as a junior and sophomore.
“I was pretty unhappy with how unhealthy I was,” said Hulstine, whose weight ballooned to 208 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It gave me motivation to compete again.”
Hulstine, 28, finished in first place at the Supreme Summer Nationals on Aug. 29 at the Westgate Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
“It felt like home being on the mat,” said Hulstine, who turned in a dominant showing in the Men’s 35-and-under 165-pound weight class. “I definitely missed it. I surprised myself. The last time I competed was in 2015 at the Last Chance Olympic Qualifier. I was training with the World Class Athlete Program out of Colorado. It’s the Army’s wrestling team.”
Hulstine, 28, compiled a 3-0 record in Las Vegas.
He won by pin in the third round in the finals.
He won by pin in the second round in the semifinals.
He won his opening match via first-round pin.
“I really wanted to compete again,” Hulstine said. “The results were pretty positive. Everything fell into place once the whistle blew. I had some nice throws in my matches. It really tested my conditioning. My cardio wasn’t the best. I was hurting.”
“I’ve been coaching,” he added. “That helped me. I practiced what I’ve been preaching.”
Hulstine lost 18 pounds leading up to the Folkstyle wrestling tournament.
He lost more than 40 pounds during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The whole journey started the COVID year. I decided to wrestle again because I was gaining a bunch of weight. Me and my brother (Troy) went to the gym every day for two months. I had zero mat time before the tournament.”Curtis Hulstine
“The whole journey started the COVID year,” he said. “I decided to wrestle again because I was gaining a bunch of weight. Me and my brother (Troy) went to the gym every day for two months. I had zero mat time before the tournament.”
Hulstine was in the U.S. Army for 61/2 years.
He was a team leader with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Hulstine was named head coach of Ceres High’s girls wrestling program during the 2019-20 school year.
“I’ve wanted to coach here for a very long time,” he said. “There’s something special about teaching someone a move, having them understand it and seeing them apply it during a match.”
“The two (wrestling and military) shaped me into who I am today,” he added. “It prepared me to handle tough situations. When I wrestled, I didn’t dwell on a loss. I learned from it.”
Hulstine was a standout boys grappler with the Bulldogs from 2006-10.
He had a career record of 113-31.
He qualified for the CIF State Championships, collected 45 wins and just six losses, finished third at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament, placed first at the Division-IV Tournament and claimed the 125-pound title at the Valley Oak League Finals during his senior year.
“The biggest thing I did was improve each year,” said Hulstine, who compiled a 28-17 record as a sophomore.
“Wrestling has been my life since I was young,” he added. “It taught me personal accountability.”