CLARKS SUMMIT – Focus and mental toughness. These are two qualities successful athletes in virtually every sport possess. Senior Abington Heights' wrestler Mike Carr (Clarks Summit) is no exception.
It's early into the high school season, but Carr is already looking forward to a return to the state competition.
Carr has good reasons to be confident. As a junior, he posted a 40-8 record at the 152-pound weight class. He also placed second in the district competition, third in the regional competition and qualified for states.
Carr did not place in the state competition, but said the experience of competing at that level was eye-opening.
When you get to that level, everyone has a different mental approach, Carr said. I didn't have that mentality that ‘I'm going to beat this kid into the ground'… At states, whoever is more aggressive wins.
This year, Carr said he has matured and takes a different mindset into each match.
Losing is not on my mind, Carr said. I don't even worry anymore. I step on the mat, let instinct take over and I know I'm going to win.
So far his approach has paid off. Carr is 10-1 on the season and has the best winning percentage on the team and second-most wins, behind junior Greg Pascale's 11-2 start.
Carr credited his change in attitude to opening up his offensive game as well.
If I'm the one making the moves, I take control, Carr said. If you get the first shot, that sets the tone for the rest of the match.
Abington Heights head coach Chris Calder said Carr's attitude has not only improved his individual game, but also helped him become a better leader on the team.
He's grown up quite a bit, Calder said. He helps the younger guys focus and is the team player everyone needs.
Mike Carr is not the only one in his family who wrestles. His younger brothers, freshman Nick Carr and junior Matt Carr, are also on the team and Mike Carr said he has seen the two develop, especially Matt, with whom he spars.
[Matt is] pound for pound, just as strong as I am and quicker, Carr said. I see him reaching states.
Carr's parents have been supportive of all their sons' interest in wrestling, paying for various summer clinics, wrestling camps and tournaments. Carr said his father set up a wrestling gym with everything you can think of in the basement.
Upon graduation, Carr plans to attend Navy boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes located near North Chicago, Ill., and enter Navy Seal training.
Carr still has the better part of his final high school wrestling season. He stands at 85 wins in his career and is quickly closing in on the 100-win milestone. Carr said he has his eye on a different goal.
[Getting to 100 wins] is nice to say, but I'm more focused on placing in the state tournament, Carr said. If I get 100 wins on the way, it's just a bonus.