This season didn’t start out as promising for Warren Carr as he anticipated.
As a freshman last year at Gillette he wrestled in the highly competitive 126-pound division and finished third in Class 4A after dropping a 12-9 overtime decision to eventual state champion Gage Byers of Green River in the semifinals. That built up his confidence for this season, which started with a fifth-place finish at the Rapid City Invitational. He won his first three matches by pin and technical fall until consecutive one-point losses in the championship and consolation semifinals.
But the Thunder Basin sophomore has stayed mentally strong and, after earning the podium at the Shane Shatto Memorial Invite, the Cowboy Invite and the Ron Thon Memorial Invitational, has his eyes set on the state tournament.
“It started off a little rough but I just kept working and getting better,” Carr said of his season. “I’m working towards where I want to be, so I’m getting there.”
Along with his high expectations, he brought a focused energy into this season. In a year where distractions of being part of a first-year program could have been overwhelming, Carr kept the blinders on and has helped Thunder Basin go into regional weekend as the No. 1 ranked team in Class 4A according to wyowrestling.com.
Carr’s contagious attitude has carried over to Dylan Catlin, a freshman who is No. 2 at 120 pounds, and all of the teammates he spars with in practice.
“Great work ethic everywhere and he’s the type of leader that stays silent but so much is expected from,” Bolts head coach Mikah Kadera said. “He’s working hard on the things that he’s struggled with. He hasn’t tasted individual or team championships so this year he has two mindsets: individual and team titles.”
In order to achieve the elusive state championship that is his goal, Carr must topple some strong competition. He is ranked No. 2 at 132 pounds, second only to Kelly Walsh senior Caleb Nathan. So in order to win the gold, Carr will have to go through a former state champion.
It’s extremely possible, considering Carr has already done it once this season. The sophomore defeated Nathan by a 7-3 decision in the semifinals at Shane Shatto before beating Joe Taylor of Glenrock in the finals to win the prestigious tournament. Nathan, however, got his revenge at the Ron Thon, winning by a 3-2 decision.
Carr has four losses this season, and the one to Nathan is his only loss to an in-state opponent. All four have been by one-point decisions.
Such heartbreaking defeats haven’t affected Carr. While some sophomores may let such losses go to their head, this one has been driven by them. He’s wrestled in the big tournaments, squared off against some of the region’s best and walked away victorious.
Even if his important upcoming matches go down to the wire, he’s not going to be the one that flinches.
“Everybody’s going to be mentally strong for so long, but if you keep pushing everybody breaks,” Carr said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do a lot better of this year is just breaking people.”
Carr has already left many broken on his march to the top spot in this weekend’s East Regional. But he insists that he’s taking the march toward state one day at a time.
“Just keep wrestling the way I am,” Carr said. “Make weight and wrestle smart, and we’ll get there.”