This is a column from Paul Daugherty, leading sports columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, who usuually focuses on professional sports... (and was a wrestler himself in Maryland)
BTW, Dustin Carter will be competing at the Ohio HS state tournament! Since this column was written, he lost his first match this morning to the 103-pounder from St Paris Graham (the only wrestler to defeat him all season) but won his other matches to make it into the tournament. Way to go, Dustin!
To see the photo album honoring Dustin, visit http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group...ctsPhotoAnnex/
It's a dream within reach
By turning disabilities to advantages, all is possible
BY PAUL DAUGHERTY | PDAUGHERTY@ENQUIRER.COM
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At 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the unluckiest kid in the Goshen High gym was Allen Bulach, a 103-pound senior from Eaton High School who was wrestling Hillsboro's Dustin Carter in the Division II sectional tournament.
How do you wrestle pure inspiration? What hold do you apply to a great story? A single-leg takedown is no match for the human spirit, invincible.
For the record, Carter has been taken down exactly twice in 38 matches this season. For comparison, Carter took down Bulach five times just in their match Saturday.
Bulach was in his first season of wrestling and had a record of 10-15. Carter was 36-1 and closing in on a spot in the state tournament. Bulach's coach, Mark Silvers, had advised his wrestler to control Carter's arms. Other wrestlers have chosen to attack Carter's head, but Carter was familiar with that strategy. Let's try his arms, Silvers said to Bulach.
Afterward, Silvers shrugged. "My kid tried hard, but he didn't have the experience to do it the way he needed to."
Carter won the match 16-5.
What Carter has achieved is impossible to describe.
Inspiration can be a sunrise or a poem - or a kid with arms that end at the elbow and legs that stop near his hips, who has won 37 of 38 wrestling matches (and counting) in one season.
When he was 5 and meningitis had swelled his body and his temperature reached 106.6 degrees, doctors handed a consent form to his parents, asking permission to amputate all of his limbs. "On the paper it said, 'Alternative to surgery: death,' " his mom, Lori, recalled Saturday. An airborne fungus was killing her child. Lori and Russ Carter signed the form, saving their son for a different, more difficult and altogether nobler life.
This past week, Dustin could not wear the prosthetics on his legs that allow him to walk. Intense tournament wrestling had chafed his stubs to the point where they bled. "Cracks" from the rubbing and dryness, Russ explained. "This deep," he said, holding his fingers a quarter-inch apart. Hillsboro students carried their friend atop their shoulders, to and from class. Humanity works best when shared.
Dustin wants to be a nutritionist and the wrestling coach at Hillsboro. He's already doing some motivational speaking. He is a marvel of humanity.
He's also one extremely difficult kid to wrestle.
Try pouring a cup of boiling tea, from a pot with no handle. Try knocking down your shadow.
No one can recall Carter even being turned this season, from his base on all fours to his back. Wrestling is the most tactile of sports. It's less about brute strength than feel, leverage and balance. It's about finding something to hold onto.
"Everything you normally do is not functional. Everything you teach - attack a leg, attack the body - you can't do," Silvers said of wrestling Carter. He wanted it clear he was taking nothing from Carter's skill or his story. I asked how Silvers how he prepared his wrestler for this match. He answered honestly.
Carter "can wrestle his match every time," Silvers said. "All the other kids have to wrestle his match one time." Silvers estimated Carter has the torso of a 145- or 152-pounder, yet wrestles at 103 pounds. "Those (muscles) can exert 145 pounds of pressure. Not many 103-pounders can say that," Silvers said.
A visual definition of "incredible" is to see Carter flip wrestlers on their backs using less than a forearm. His opponents aren't the only guys with leverage issues.
It's fair to suggest wrestling Dustin Carter is like wrestling a snapping turtle. What's unfair is to patronize him. What's worse than that is to size him up and decide who he can be. Because here's the thing about disabled people:
They tell you who they can be.
It's their call, their game, their life. To assign limits to them is to ask a flower to stop blooming. What if someone had decided Dustin Carter couldn't wrestle?
His right arm extends from the shoulder to just above the elbow. His left arm stops just below the elbow. His reach is endless. He wrestles today with a chance to qualify for the state tournament. He has a few advantages as a wrestler.
Would you trade places with him?