Armless/Legless Wrestler's Quest: Making State Tourney in Ohio
Some of you may remember stories and photos of Dustin Carter, the legless and armless wrestler from Hillsboro, Ohio. He's now a senior with only one loss this season... on a quest to make it to Columbus for the Ohio HS state tournament.
The Cincinnati Enquirer put Dustin on the front page of its Friday, February 15, 2008 issue. Here's the story. To see nearly three-dozen pics of Dustin Carter, visit this photo album at AmateurWrestlingFanAddicts Photo Annex: http://sports.ph.groups.yahoo.com/gr...os/browse/91b7
His goal: Making state
Wrestler has lost just 1 match this year in pursuit of a dream
BY JOHN ERARDI | JERARDI@ENQUIRER.COM
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Today, Dustin Carter opens his pursuit of "making state," as he wrestles in the sectional tournament at Chillicothe.
His favorite thing about that? His entire Hillsboro High School team will be wrestling, too. He's the team captain, just one of the guys.
Carter and seniors Oney Snyder and Greg Rhoads ride herd on the team. The three are very close. Next year, they'll each be wrestling in college.
"That's pretty amazing in itself - three wrestlers from Hillsboro going on to wrestle at the next level," says Carter - the most amazing story of them all.
Carter sees himself as just another senior wrestler with a dream. But he's different.
He doesn't have arms or legs. They had to be amputated when he was 5 years old to save him from a rare blood infection.
Carter is already the talk of the state. Many people want to see him make it to Columbus.
"Every eye in the gym watches his matches, no matter who they're there to see," Hillsboro High School principal Rick Earley says.
Carter doesn't concentrate on what's been taken away, but rather on what he has developed - strength, agility and perseverance.
He is 32-1 this season and ranked No. 9 in Ohio in the 103-pound weight class (Division II). The only wrestler to beat Carter this year is Nick Brascetta, a freshman ranked No. 4 in the state from Graham High (St. Paris, 30 miles northeast of Dayton). Graham is the No. 1 team in the country, according to most rating services.
Here is what Brian Brakeman, author of "The Brakeman Reports," the bible for high school wrestling in Ohio, says about Carter and Brascetta:
"Brascetta dominates the Goshen District with one exception - the incredible Carter (who) went into overtime with Brascetta....Carter is difficult to wrestle - very strong, with good movement and some unorthodox techniques. The crowd is always on his side. So am I."
Four wrestlers in each weight class will advance this weekend to the district tournament in Goshen. Carter is one of the favorites to advance. After district is state.
"Making state would be a dream-come-true for me," Carter says. "Oney and Greg are used to going to state. I'm not."
Snyder, ranked No. 5 in the state at 215 in Division II, has made it to state twice. He is Ivy League-bound in the fall - Cornell University. Rhoads, No. 7 in the state at 171, has been to state three times. He hasn't yet chosen which college to attend, Carter says. Carter will attend the College of Mount St. Joseph, if he can come up with the money.
Earley says that in his 25 years at the school, he has never known three senior teammates to go on to wrestle in college.
"The speaker at our National Junior Honor Society told our students, 'Where you are is the center of the universe - but from here, you can go anywhere you want,' " Early recalls. "These three young men are good examples of that."
The center of Carter's universe is Hillsboro, 50 miles east of Cincinnati on U.S. 50 in Highland County.
"From the day I started wrestling, I loved it," he says. "It's the greatest thing in the world. Honestly, though? I never thought I'd go this far. I never thought I'd get 30 wins. I never thought I'd lose only one match. I just kept working at it, though. That part suits me."
Before the blood disease, he was a terrific swimmer, a fast runner and good hitter in baseball. He was also strong-willed, darn near defiant - attributes that father, Russ, says his son has put to good use.
Dustin has life in a headlock.
Says a personal trainer from Cincinnati who has taken Carter under his wing: "I tell people, 'Dustin trains like he's going to live forever, and lives like he's going to die tomorrow.' "
Carter has been an inspiration to the entire student body at Hillsboro High.
"But he's also a typical (teenager) in that I've had to have him in here (the principal's office) for some frank discussions," Earley says. "He's always been honest with me, always been accountable. You can be having a bad day, but that ends when you see Dustin. He always has a smile on his face."
Carter credits his trainer, Scott Goodpaster, for much of his improvement on the mat.
"He's made me stronger, taught me how to use my hips, improved my balance," Carter says. "We go out to eat together. We talk on the phone a couple of nights a week. Before, I was stubborn in practice. I kept doing the same things over and over, kept getting beat on the same move. Now I think my way through it. Some of that's maturity. I've matured a lot in the last year."
In March, Goodpaster offered his services free of charge to Carter. Goodpaster had seen Carter wrestle at a tournament at Oak Hills.
"I train a lot of wrestlers - it's my niche, you could say," Goodpaster, a former wrestler at Deer Park, says. "I felt I could help Dustin with his dream of making it to state. Most of what I've helped him with is core strength and balance.
"But he's the one who's supplied all the perseverance. He's the reason he's going to make it state.
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