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July 19, 2007
SPORTS - WRESTLING
Carr earns JUCO national championship
|Nate Carr, Jr. wrestles in the National Junior College Athletic Association championships in Rochester, Minn., where he finished first in his 157-lb. weight class and claimed one of three national titles earned by wrestlers on his Iowa Central Community College team.|
GRAY, Georgia (STPNS) -- Just under a year ago, life threw Nate Carr, Jr. a curve ball.
The former Jones County High wrestler and three-time Georgia High School Association state champion was set to make good on an athletic scholarship to a major Division-I college when one of his biggest dreams was dashed.
About two weeks before Carr was going to move into his dorm at West Virginia University he found out he would not be admitted to the school because of test scores that were just shy of NCAA requirements.
?It was like, ?Hey, your dream is gone. What are you going to do now??? Carr said.
After fighting through a brief period of depression, Carr and his Olympic-bronze-medalist father Nate, Sr. set out to find the wrestler a reputable junior college where he could work on getting his grades up while also improving his mat skills.
The college search landed Carr at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
?It?s in a small town about like Jones County,? Carr said of ICCC. ?All I had to do there was wrestle and work my butt off in the classroom.?
The Tritons were the defending National Junior College Athletic Association champions, and the legacy of Nate, Sr. in the area, as he did his collegiate wrestling at Iowa State University, helped Nate, Jr. get a meeting with coach Luke Moffitt.
The result was that Carr signed as part of a star-studded recruiting class of prep wrestlers who helped bring a second-consecutive national championship to ICCC, produce three individual national champions, and take nine of 10 spots on the NJCAA All-American team.
?There were a bunch of guys like me who didn?t quite get into Division-I programs,? Carr said. ?We had something like the number-three recruiting class last year, not just for junior colleges, but for all wrestling programs in the country.?
Under the guidance of head coach Moffitt and assistant Todd Bennett, Carr said the Tritons were without a doubt the toughest team in the junior college ranks.
?They are young coaches. They are full of energy, and they really know how to work us,? he said.
ICCC won the dual meet national championship in Cedar Falls, Iowa, January 13-14 before heading to Region XIII traditional meet in Worthington, Minn., February 11 and the NJCAA National Tournament in Rochester, Minn., February 23-24.
?I got really sick before regionals and barely won,? said Carr, who was 37-6 and ranked second in his 157-lb. weight class at the junior college level heading into nationals.
At the national tournament, Carr breezed through his first three matches after a first-round bye, winning two matches by technical fall, 18-3 and 23-7.
His first real test of the tournament came in the semifinals, as he beat Pratt Community College?s Jason Nichols, 7-6.
Then, with the national championship on the line and Northwest Wyoming?s Jeb Clark, who had defeated the tournament?s number-one seed, across the mat from him, Carr drew some inspiration from a special visitor in the stands.
?My dad was there,? Carr said, ?just believing in me and making sure I was prepared and giving 100 percent. That was really cool of him to do that.?
Carr scored a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the match to earn a 6-5 win and a national title.
?By winning a junior college national championship, that proves that you have the ability to wrestle at a Division-I program, which I already knew, but I had to prove it again,? Carr said.
Carr is planning on sitting out the upcoming season at ICCC and using a redshirt to preserve a year of eligibility that he can use at a NCAA school.
?I?ll then be able to wrestle three years at the NCAA level,? he said. ?Right now, I think some colleges like Iowa, Iowa State, Missouri, and Illinois are looking at me.?
Another impressive achievement for Carr this past year that may help him get into one of those schools is his grade point average.
Carr had a 3.0 for his freshman year and hopes to have a 3.5 in the upcoming school year.
?I?m just trying to do what I can to be a successful person,? Carr said. ?There?s not a day that goes by that I don?t thank the Lord for giving me these abilities.?
Carr just returned to Iowa to resume training after spending some time at home.
He hopes to earn the experience of trying out for next year?s Olympic team.
?I?m just looking forward to the experience of trying out in 2008,? he said. ?I?m hoping to be able to make the team in 2012.?
Carr said he has seen his character grow alongside his wrestling abilities in the past year, and when looking forward to aspirations of Division-I programs and Olympics, he is taking nothing for granted.
?Life is not a fairy tale. You?ve got to work hard to get what you want,? he said.
Though his collegiate wrestling career may not have gotten off to the start that he had in mind while he dominated the Georgia high school ranks, Carr said he would not change anything about the past year.
?I?m glad this is the way it worked out, because my wrestling ability wouldn?t be what it is today,? he said. ?God couldn?t have picked a better place and time for me.?
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