It’s a long journey to become a state medalist in any sport.
Abington Heights senior Mat Carr, 17, accomplished that goal by placing fourth in the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships in Hershey March 6-8 in the 160 lb. weight class.
Along the way, he also picked up his 100th win, and finished his high school career with 109 victories.
According to Abington Heights High School head wrestling coach Chris Calder, the Dalton resident should take pride in the way he reached the milestone.
“There are two different ways to get there,” he said. “There is the way Mat did it, which is the tough way by wrestling some of the toughest competition in the state and earning 100 wins. Or, there is laying low and picking guys off. When you walk away with 109 wins against tough competition and a state medal, you’re the best of the best.”
Carr began wrestling in elementary school and began to realize his talent toward the end of middle school.
“I never fully enjoyed the sport until later in middle school,” he said. “I took third at districts during seventh grade. That was when I got serious about the sport and really started to see my potential.”
His skills and determination improved further under the guidance of Calder.
According to Calder, one of the main reasons for Carr’s maturation as a wrestler over the past few years has been his ability to respond to instruction.
“He became more of a coachable athlete,” Calder said. “That’s been the number one thing. We both came in together, he was a freshman and I was a first-year head coach. We came a long way together.”
Carr credits Calder’s expertise and tough practices for molding him into a tougher wrestler.
“They definitely helped me push harder and be more aggressive throughout my attack,” Carr said. “Before high school, I was a lot more passive. I really upped my tempo when I got to high school. The practices were really demanding. Some of them were grueling and pretty long.”
Those tough practices paid dividends when Carr won three straight matches in the consolation bracket after dropping his second round match.
“We just took it one match at a time,” Calder said. “We worked on some things the week before to get where we needed to be and looked to control the match during the last two minutes.”
Once he clinched a spot on the medal stand, Carr opened up his attack on the mat.
“After I made the placing rounds for eight place, it took some pressure off and I went all out,” he said.
Calder also believes that Carr’s work ethic throughout his career played a large role in his development as a wrestler.
“He dedicated himself in the off-season,” he said. “He put 15 pounds of muscle on and got a lot stronger. If you look at his game, he rounded out his intensity and aggressiveness on his feet on the mat. Those were two things that he excelled at.”
The son John and Cecilia Carr is undecided on his college choice, but plans on wrestling and is interested in studying criminal justice.