Stepping up in weight class and armed with four years of varsity wrestling experience, Carroll County senior Jarrett Thomas hopes to reach the state tournament this year.
Thomas, who wrestled his first three seasons at the 106-pound weight class, narrowly missed the state tournament last season, falling just one match short of qualifying. Early into his senior campaign Thomas moved up to 113 pounds, a move Carroll County head coach Matt Tompkins said has been a beneficial one.
“It’s a big deal. He made a mature decision coming to me and said he felt drained at 106 and would like to try to eat a bit and try to put muscle on and go to 113,” Tompkins said. “And ever since then he has wrestled much better, not in just how he feels, but how he wrestles and his confidence level as well. The state tournament is his goal. His goal is to make a deep run in the not just the region, but in the state tournament because he knows this is his last shot.”
Thomas is 12-7 for the season, but his win totals have been improving since he moved up to 113 pounds. He went 3-0 at Grundy to win the Agie Skeens Memorial Wrestling Tournament the last week of 2015. Then on Jan. 6, he pinned his Pulaski County opponent in the second period. He also finished third recently in the Knights of the Round Table at Cave Spring.
“He has consistently gotten better. He’s not the strongest kid at 113, but he uses his intelligence and has worked to hone his craft all year,” Tompkins said. “He has really put the work in and is starting to see the fruits of his labor. It is great to have him. He’s one of our four captains. He’s not a very outspoken young man, but a great leader by example, don’t let yourself be outworked or outcoached, yes sir and no sir, just a very respectable young man. His parents did a great job with him.”
As one of two seniors on the team, Thomas said he tries to lead by example though hard work. He enjoys the 113-pound weight class because it’s a more natural weight for him and he feels like it gives him more energy. While wrestling is a team sport, he likes the fact that when you are on the mat it is just you against your opponent.
“I like that it is something different. You have sports like baseball and football, but in wrestling you have to be smarter and you have to also have the mentality that you are going to win. Even if he is way better than you are, you have the mentality you are going to win anyway,” Thomas said.
Change has been a constant throughout Thomas’ wrestling career. At the end of his sophomore season, long-time Carroll coach Jason Morris stepped down from the program. His replacement, Jay Ruff, coached Thomas during his junior year. Now in his senior season, Tompkins has taken over the wheel along with assistant coach Jared Hooper. Thomas said he appreciates the style of the new coaches.
“Last year the coach was more about being defensive and let them take the shots and you just counteract what they are doing. This year they are more, ‘Be aggressive and wear the guy out. Beat on him and be more offensive,’” Thomas said. “I like that a lot better because in my weight class if you are not aggressive then nobody is going to do anything and you are pretty much going to lose. I like being the aggressor.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN