Athlete of the Year

Catonsville running back Joseth Hylton gained nearly 1,000 yards rushing and scored 17 touchdowns for the Comet football. The regional wrestling champions was named Catonsville Times Co-Athlete of the Year. (File photo/2012 / September 6, 2012)

Whether he was carrying the football into a nest of giant linemen or grappling on the mat with a more experienced wrestler, Catonsville senior Joseth Hylton never showed any fear.

In fact, he often put the fear in the opposing defenders, who were left grasping at air as he raced past them — or in the wrestling opponent, who prayed he’d let them down softly during one of his patented lift-and-drop takedowns.

Hylton, who shares the Catonsville Times Athlete of the Year award with Brandon Dixon, combined strength and speed in whatever sport he was playing.

Wrestling coach Eric Warm knew Hylton’s natural strength would take him a long way on the wrestling mat early in the season when he wrestled a mirror image of himself at the Northern Calvert Tournament.

“This kid from Virginia was just as big as Joseth, and those guys were throwing each other all over the mat,” Warm said. “Eventually, the other guy wrenched his neck and Joseth won the match. Every other wrestler after that was scared to wrestle him. No one wanted to wrestle him.”

Hylton went on to finish third in the prestigious tournament.

Hylton, who didn’t wrestle as a junior after making an impact on varsity as a sophomore, admitted he missed the sport after the Comets’ dual-meet victory over Sparrows Point.

“Last year, I didn’t wrestle because I guess I was just too focused on football at that point, not realizing that wrestling helps you with football and it does so much for me,” Hylton said. “I had to get back on it. Besides, why not wrestle and stay in shape all year round, keep my mind occupied? Why not go out with a bang?”

He did go out with a bang, but not before he had to overcome a setback to Hereford’s Dylan Gray in the quarterfinal of the Baltimore County tournament.

He placed fifth in that tournament, but Hylton avenged that defeat to Gray in a Class 3A-4A North Region semifinal by dominating him, 12-2, on the way to a regional championship.

In the state tournament’s first round at College Park, Hylton suffered a concussion and was forced to default in the second round.

“He wanted to continue, but the trainers said he couldn’t,” Warm said.

The lingering concussion symptoms also deprived him of competing for the outdoor track team.

“He is such a natural athlete and he’s a perfectionist. Anything he puts his mind to, he will do well at it,” said Warm, whose squad went 11-4 and was the third seed in the regional dual-meet playoffs.

Hylton finished the season with a 34-13 record and most of his defeats were to quality opponents.

“Those tournaments are the real deal,” said Hylton, after a dual-meet win over Milford Mill. “I thank coach Warm for that because he’s giving us a different experience for wrestling.”

Despite being listed at just 5-feet-7 and 160 pounds, Hylton was the real deal on the football field, where he led the Comets with 17 touchdowns.

Named Catonsville’s Most Valuable Player, he was the second leading rusher (142 carries, 983 yards) and led the team in yards per carry (6.9 average).

He shared the rushing load with D´Andre Lane (1,046 yards), who will play at the University of Maryland in the fall.

“They were a superior backfield,” said right guard Dixon. “Even if somebody missed a block, we were pretty confident they could make some yards.”

Hylton also played defensive back and his hard-hitting tackles set the tone for the rest of the secondary.

“He’s one of the top two or three hardest hitters I’ve ever coached,” said coach Rich Hambor, who completed his ninth year as head coach. “He is as tough as he is and it’s all within the rules and the scheme of the defense.”

Assistant coach Warren Como, who has coached in Baltimore County for 35 years, went even a step further.

“Pound for pound, he is the hardest hitter I’ve ever coached,” he said. “At 150 pounds, he knocked people out.”

Although the Comets (7-4) lost in the first round of the postseason, Hylton still made a postseason impact by being named Most Valuable Player at the Baltimore County/City All-Star game.

“He is fast and he’s got great moves,” said Hambor, who noted Hylton plans to take his skills on the gridiron to Stevenson University in the fall.