His high school wrestling career didn't end the way he wanted it to, but Chestnut Ridge senior 285-pounder Austin Buttry now has his sights set on his college career.
Buttry has signed on to wrestle at the United States Military Academy West Point.
Buttry was looking at UPJ, which was his second choice, the Naval Academy, West Virginia, Lehigh and Bloomsburg to continue his career. He visited Army, Lehigh, West Virginia, Navy and UPJ, but he committed on Feb. 4 and signed with Army, a Division I program, on March 22.
"When I looked at it, I saw all the benefits and all the great things I would be able to do out of it," Buttry said. "There's not many other colleges that can offer me 100 percent job placement, and I'd be coming out with job benefits and a great career.
"We want up there for a visit over the summer, and I just felt like this is the place that I want to be. That's when I decided. We had so many kids come up and ask us if we needed help when we were just walking around. The coaches were so helpful. A lot of other places, you're on your own."
"It's a great school," Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. "It's one of the best schools in the country. His hard work really paid off for him."
Some might be surprised with the choice, especially with the physical and regimented nature of the Army lifestyle, but Buttry, known for his almost constant smile, has proved throughout his high school career that short, pudgy kids can be very successful on the mat.
Asked if he was at all concerned about the physical part of it, he said, "No, not particularly, because wrestling has taught me just because something is hard doesn't mean you quit.
"I went to Renegades [Wrestling Club], and my coach [Chris Bentley] was an ex-ranger, and he put us through physical training like the army would. We would climb trees and be pulling ourselves over a bunch of stuff. He helped a lot with preparing that, and then there were the practices."
He'll go to a prep school the first year, wrestle at 235, which is a prep school weight, or at heavyweight, and then move on to West Point. He has long-ranging goals off the mat of getting a good job being the best parent he can be.
On the mat, where he posted a career record of 114-37, he has big goals.
"My main goal is to go to nationals and become an NCAA All-American," he said. "Then, I'd really like to wrestle in the Olympics in freestyle."
"It's always been my goal to go Division I. Last year or two years ago, I didn't think I'd be able to go to a Division II school and wrestle, but to be able to go Division I is very nice."
Buttry placed fifth at the PIAA Championships his junior season, but after winning a District 5 title and placing third at the Southwest Regional Tournament this season, he went 0-2 at the state tournament, including a 3-1 overtime loss to Cambria Heights' Aaron Gill in his first consy bout.
Buttry got some revenge in the Flood City Showdown, an all-star meet at Westmont Hilltop, with a 6-0 win over Gill.
Some high school wrestlers can't make the jump from high school to college successfully, but Buttry is confident that he'll be able to handle it.
"I have to keep the determination up and keep wanting more," he said.
"To see where Austin came from to one of the best in the state, if he sets his mind to it with some hard work and dedication, he can reach his goals," Lazor said.