Victory Drives Wrestler Carman

GLEN DALE – For 11-year-old Anthony Carman, it’s all about the thrill of victory.

Carman, a seventh grader at Sherrard Middle School, is something of a wrestling phenom who has twice finished third in national events, despite not beginning participation in the sport until he was 8.

That was the year he won the West Virginia Novice State Championship.

”What I really like when I wrestle is after a tough match getting my hands raised saying I won,” Anthony said.

It happens more than you’d think.

Anthony’s dad, Mike, dabbled in the sport when he was a youth but it didn’t take him as far as he wanted to go. It is now, as Anthony, the oldest of his six children, has taken the adrenaline all the way to Reno, Nev., and Tulsa, Ok., with future trips planned to Atlanta, Missouri, Colorado, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Arizona to compete in national tournaments.

Already under his belt are bronze finishes in two of the largest youth national wrestling tournaments held in the United States – the Tulsa Nationals and the Cliff Keen Reno World Championships.

”I surprised myself,” Anthony said. ”I thought the competition would be tougher.”

Remember, Anthony didn’t pick up the sport until he was a fifth grader.

After his family moved from Ohio to West Virginia, Anthony saw some wrestling ”and thought it was cool. I wanted to wrestle,” he said.

He makes it sound simple. He just doesn’t want to wrestle. He wants to have his hand raised after every match.

After three years of local, regional, and state wrestling, Anthony was winning at roughly a 96-percent clip.

”The gap between him and the kids that started when they were 3 and 4 started to close,” Mike said.

So they started looking bigger.

”I thought, ‘Why don’t we try to put our hat in the ring?’ ” Mike said.

Suddenly, the kid champ was at wrestling camps, learning from guys like Ken Chertow, gaining an immeasurable affinity for the sport. After one such camp, Anthony came home and told his dad, ”I want to be an Olympic gold medalist.”

”Imagine our dismay when they said they’re taking wrestling out of the Olympics,” said Mike, who was wearing a save wrestling (in the Olympics) shirt as he spoke.

Anthony also wants to wrestle at Penn State, one of the nation’s premier wrestling schools, which is why he’s hitting the national circuit.

”I told him we need to set short-term goals to reach the long-term goals,” Mike said.

He told his son, ”we need to get you to these tournaments and you need to do well. In order to do well, you’ve got to train hard.”

No problem. During the season, Anthony hits the mats 15 hours a week.

In one of those two national events, he pinned his way into the semifinals, all in the first round, and wound up relinquishing points to only two of his six opponents.

At these tournaments, Anthony was able to meet the likes of Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs and wrestling and boxing champion Danny Hodge.

”I went to a couple wrestling camps and saw how far I could get in wrestling,” Anthony said. ”It was amazing how far you could go.”

Within the next six months, Anthony wants to make a run at the prestigious Trinity Award.

Youngsters can earn that by winning three tournaments: The Kickoff Classic in Tulsa, OK.; Tulsa Nationals in Tulsa, OK.; and the Reno Worlds.

Along the way he will try to earn the America Crown by winning the Liberty Nationals tournament in Kansas City, Mo., and two of the other six tournaments in the series (Preseason Nationals in St. Joseph, Mo; Big Horn Nationals in Loveland, Colo; Dixie Nationals in Atlanta, Ga; Northeast Nationals in Amherst, Mass; East Coast Nationals in Richmond, Va., and West Coast Nationals in Tempe, Ariz).

In short, the young man can’t get enough of wrestling.

”There’s something about being on a mat,” Mike said. ”You can’t hide your weakness. It’s a pure 1-on-1 sport. If you’re better, you win. If you’re not, you lose. It’s pretty cut and dry.

”The sky is the limit for any kid if they work hard in wrestling to earn a scholarship and go to college. There isn’t a million dollar contract after that, but they’re going to get one darn good education out of it.

”It doesn’t matter how big you are. There’s a weight class for you. All you have to be is good.”

His oldest son, as well as his three younger ones who are also active in the sport, have that covered.