Reservoir’s Josh Hamilton was ahead by a point in last year’s Class 4A-3A state tournament final against Hereford’s Taylor Gload before being reversed for the fall in three minutes and 11 seconds.

That loss has haunted Hamilton ever since.

“From the moment I got pinned at states,” said Hamilton, “that’s been my motivation all season.”

So far this year, it is the rivals of Hamilton, now a senior, who have mostly wound up being pinned.

Hamilton decked his way through the Springbrook tournament, and did the same through the Mountain Valley event — the latter culminating with a fall over a wrestler who was ranked third in the state of West Virginia.

Hamilton also pinned his way into the finals of the Tuscarora of Frederick County Tournament before registering a major decision over his Walkersville opponent.

And on Saturday night at Oakland Mills High, Hamilton nailed down his 26th, 27th and 28th falls of the year in as many matches to earn the Howard County title, raising his mark on the year to 32-0 with a major decision, a decision and two forfeits.

“I saw Mark Colabucci go undefeated last year,” said Hamilton, “and that just made me want to do it more.”

Although Colabucci went 44-0 and became the Gators’ first-ever state champion at 145 pounds last season, the senior was upset in Saturday night’s 171-pound county final, 7-5, on a last-second takedown by Alvin Harris, ending a run of 75 consecutive wins.

“I don’t want to lose. I feel like if I do, then it’s an upset. I’ve been working on improving. I shoot a lot now. I’m just working my butt off to get to where I need to be and to win a state title this year. I’ve had two forfeits, I major-decisioned the Walkersville kid, and I beat Nick Hoyt of Glenelg, 8-4, in my first match with him,” said Hamilton, who decked Hoyt with two seconds remaining in their Howard County Tournament semifinal bout.

“I wrestle to get as much work in as I possibly can because I know that later in the season I’m going to need my wind. That’s different from the way I approached it last year,” said Hamilton, who is 17. “Last year, I would just try to get out there and get it over with, and before you know it, I was tired in the big matches. This year, I wrestle to score the points and to keep my stamina up. Then I go for the pin.”

A runner-up at last year’s county tournament to River Hill’s Brandon Barnes, Hamilton looks to improve on last season’s third place finish at Class 4A-3A East Regions when he reports to Wilde Lake High on Friday and Saturday night for this year’s regionals.

Hamilton placed third at last year’s regionals after totaling three pins against a 3-2, semifinal loss to Stephen Decatur’s Dylan Drew, who wound up defeating Barnes, 3-2, in the regional final.

At states, Hamilton nailed down falls in 22, 78, and, 42 seconds, the second being over Leonardtown’s South Region champion, Mark Bohanan, and the last against Barnes.

Gload had defeated Drew, 2-0, in his semifinal before facing Hamilton, and Bohanan edged Drew, 4-2, in the consolation semifinals on the way to a third place finish.

“I weighed around 270 last year, but it was more fat than I have this year when I get to lift and eat all that I want,” said whose 265 pounds is five less than he weighed a year ago.

“I’ve slimmed down and I’ve gotten a lot stronger, and I want to put that on display at states,” said Hamilton. “I played football. But where you see a lot of heavyweights who are football players who wrestle, I’m a wrestler who played football. And I’m going to wrestle in college.”