Justin Otis finished his prep wrestling career last year, but his legacy will live on at Lakeside High School.
During the Region 3-AAAA wrestling championships last weekend, Lakeside wrestling coach Randy Hill announced that Otis' singlet has been retired, and will be displayed with a photo and a plaque in the school commons area.
"We're starting a Hall of Fame at Lakeside, and this is the beginning," Hill said. "It's kind of a neat thing to give the kids here incentive. They'll realize the things Justin has done, and everybody needs goals to set standards by."
The standards set by Otis are sky-high.
Before transferring to Lakeside, he wrestled at Lugoff-Elgin High School, where he won the Class AAA state title in the 145-pound weight class as a sophomore.
In his first season with the Panthers, the junior competed in the 152-pound class, compiling a 50-3 record and finishing third in the Class AAAA state championships.
As a senior, Otis claimed the Class AAAA state title in the 160-pound class, and was named overall Class AAAA Wrestler of the Year. He finished his high school career with a 148-10 record, and also won the Senior National High School Championship.
Otis, a 2003 Lakeside graduate, is now a red-shirt freshman with the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He attended the Saturday ceremony in his honor, but instead of basking in the glory, he seemed more interested in cheering on the Panthers during the region tournament.
"Any chance he gets, Justin comes and supports us," Lakeside senior Sam Jasinski said. "He's definitely a part of the Lakeside family, and we owe him a lot."
The retired singlet, the plaque detailing his accomplishments, the picture and the permanent enshrinement at Lakeside were part of the pay back for the best wrestler in Lakeside history.
Those accolades were well-earned, according to Otis' former teammate.
"Sometimes when you get accustomed to things, it takes somebody coming from the outside, like Justin Otis, especially with his talent, skills and work ethic, to show you what it takes," Jasinski said. "I've never seen somebody work so hard at something they loved. Bringing him in here has done a lot for wrestling, not only for me and Lakeside, but for everybody in this area."
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