Eddie Hummel is a standout senior wrestler at Southern Regional High School.
Before that, the 18-year-old from Long Beach Island spent his freshman and sophomore campaigns on the mat at Roselle Park in Union County.
With the Panthers, he befriended former teammate Mark Montgomery, who now wrestles at the United States Military Academy.
Montgomery told him nothing but good things about the program. Hummel decided to follow in his friend’s footsteps.
On Tuesday, Hummel verbally committed to wrestle for Army, an NCAA Division I program that competes in the Patriot League. He will sign a national letter of intent in the coming months.
“I’m going to know people there,” Hummel said about Army. “I’m not going to be all by myself.”
Deciding to attend a program like Army is as big of a commitment as just choosing to play sports. Graduates of the school must serve in the military for five years, although athletes can defer that military service to pursue professional careers. Even for non-athletes, it is a sacrifice choosing this option.
Hummel said he talked with his family and coaches and realized this route was the perfect opportunity for him athletically and academically.
Army coaches have been interested in Hummel since he placed sixth at the state individual tournament at 126 pounds as a sophomore in 2018-19.
Army has been coached by Kevin Ward since 2014.
“I liked the coaches,” Hummel said. He has not visited the West Point, New York, campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic but has had virtual tours and “from all the pictures, it’s a very beautiful campus. It just felt right.”
Hummel lost in the first round of the state tournament in 2020, but won seven straight wrestleback bouts en route to a third-place finish at 138 pounds and a spot on the podium.
That resilience exemplifies the program at Southern.
“It will help him in college, because we set high standards and have high expectations every year for the team and also individuals,” Southern coach Dan Roy said. “The way we go about training, we run a college level practice. … Our practices are really intense. It will translate very well (for Hummel), because it is very close to what we are doing.”
Hummel’s run in the states as a junior is also a big indicator of how he will do in college, Roy said.
“That was a huge thing for his character,” Roy said.
The second-year coach called Hummel a great and respectful person, adding the two have a great relationship. Roy is confident that Hummel will be successful at Army.
“Whatever goal he sets for himself, he is going to keep trying to achieve that goal,” Roy said. “He has high expectations and high goals. He trains hard. Wrestling is his life. He has been doing it since he was a really little kid, so I think his training and the way he represents himself makes him a D-I kid.”
Hummel also captured his second straight District 29 title and finished second at Region 8 in 2020. He finished 31-2 and was a first-team Press All-Star. He wants to bring all of that success and work ethic he learned to Army.
Hummel is 8-1 so far this season.
“They are known for being hardnosed (at Army),” Hummel said. “I’ve watched a couple of their matches. They are all tough kids. … I want to be able to be one of those hardnosed kids.”
Contact Patrick Mulranen: 609-272-7217