Buckeye’s Light Back On the Mat

Photo by Kim North Buckeye Local’s Travis Light competes at the Wheeling Park Duals on Thursday.

WHEELING — Wrestling is about as individual of a sport as you can get. It’s just you and your opponent out there on the mat.

Not everyone can be a wrestler. It takes determination, guts, hard work and many, many sacrifices.

Travis Light has all of the aforementioned credentials, and then some.

The Buckeye Local sophomore lightweight was partially paralyzed last February while competing at the Panther Classic. He was slammed headfirst to the mat and subsequently taken by medical helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital.

After undergoing months of rehabilitation, Light is back on the mat.

“There was no contemplating giving up on the sport. I’ve been born into this sport and it’s a sport I’ve been doing since I was 4 years old,” he said. “I’ve been around it since I was 3. It’s been a part of my life and I don’t think I could ever give it up.

“I missed it a lot. I’ve been working all summer and fall to get back out there with coach Saxton and coach Brooks. They helped me get back to where I was before, and I can’t thank them enough.

“I always knew it was possible. I felt deep inside myself that I could definitely have the will to get back out there. I’m definitely not back to 100 percent. I’m probably 85-90 percent, but there’s still work to be done. That gives me a reason to continue to work hard.”

The 126-pounder went 2-2 Thursday on the first day of the 28th annual Wheeling Park Duals inside WesBanco Arena, something that wasn’t overlooked by his coach.

“Travis has come a long way. He’s only been cleared since June and he’s still not 100 percent, but you could never tell it,” coach Willie Saxton said. “He’s wrestling better now than he was before he got injured.

“Travis has a big heart for the sport. His desire to win is outstanding.”

Saxton said Light can have a bright future in the sport because of his work ethic and determination.

“It’s just some small mistakes from him that has kept him from winning some matches, but that is to be expected,” Saxon said. “I’m proud to have him on my team. He’s very coachable. His actions motivate all the other kids. They see how he overcame a really bad injury. Most kids don’t come back from an injury like that, but most kids aren’t Travis Light.”