MARION — Even though he watches the match almost daily, Carter Chase still isn’t used to being called champ.
“It still doesn’t feel that real. I can’t get my mind around it,” the Pleasant senior said.
Chase won the Division III state wrestling championship at 165 pounds and did so in one of the most remarkable finishes of the weekend. On center stage in Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center, Chase was trailing Willard senior Shadrick Slone 4-2 with only seconds left when he used a snap cradle to produce five points before the end of the match and a 7-4 victory.
“I had to trust in my training and everything I’ve done up to that point because in the season I didn’t actually realize how much I was training,” he said. “Now that I’ve had a little time to relax, I really did go hard for the last three months of the season and really pushed myself. I trained for that moment exactly.”
He’s a state champion and with those spoils comes a second Fahey Bank Athlete of the Month Award for Marion County males. He earned one last year and did the same in March, getting it automatically due to his state title.
“Like I said last year, it’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s a great achievement to have. It shows your hard work paid off,” Chase said of the Fahey Bank award.
He is the first state wrestling champion from Marion County and Pleasant since 2008, so it was truly a historic accomplishment.
“Did I think it was a lock that he was going to be a state champ? No, but I also never count him out, even when some other people predicted him being as low as fourth or fifth. Carter uses that as fuel for his fire, and it was remarkable,” Pleasant coach Joe Robinson said.
That fuel started to be used much earlier than state week.
As a young elementary school student, Chase said he was bullied.
“Back in the day I was always that chubby kid who would always get picked on and stuff,” he said. “I saw C.J. (Smith, teammate and longtime friend) doing wrestling and my dad asked me if I wanted to try it. We started going to the Pleasant practices for youth, and that’s where we met a bunch of the people we still wrestle with today.”
Wrestling gave him confidence and taught him toughness among many other positive character traits.
“You can’t change what happened in the past,” he admitted. “I haven’t really given it much thought at all, but I probably wouldn’t be as driven as I was today.”
If others can see his wrestling origin story and gain inspiration or hope, he’s happy to oblige.
“It would be a really cool thing to help others out,” he said. “I’ve always been a little soft-hearted and found a place to always care for everybody.”
Chase is a four-time state qualifier and two-time state placer, including the championship earned in March, which is the fifth in Pleasant wrestling history.
He went 49-1 as a senior, his only loss coming to Division II state champ Antwaun Burns of London in the finals of Pleasant’s Sally George Wrestling Invitational at 5-1. He ended his career with a 174-20 record, which is a school record for wins, and he became a three-time Academic All-Ohioan as well.
More so, he’s taking those many talents to Ohio State to compete with one of the nation’s top programs as a preferred walk-on.
To accomplish it all took a dedication few can muster and an ability to navigate adversity few can overcome. His workouts and training are legendary in the Pleasant wrestling room. His tolerance for pain is too, as he’s competed with a broken hand, a torn labrum, injured knees and all sorts of abrasions and contusions throughout high school.
“It was really, really awesome validation for all the work he’s put in and the stress he’s put on his body and his mind,” Robinson said of Chase’s payoff this winter. “It was nice to see a great thing happen to an incredibly hard worker.”
According to Robinson, one of the chief reasons Chase found the success he did on the mat is because he knows why he’s wrestling.
“He knows his why. He knows why he’s doing it. If we know our why, eventually the how will show itself,” Robinson said.
He chased excellence and gained a championship — plus a lot more in the bargain.
“He’s given plenty to the sport of wrestling,” Robinson said. “He has a tremendous mindset. He’s the uncommon guy.
“He’s one where it would have been easy (to quit) with a broken hand and messed up knees and a shoulder, but he fought through and now he’s doing rather well physically. It would have been easy for a lot of people — on top of a world-wide pandemic — (to ask) why am I doing this? He pushed through. It takes a special person to be a wrestler anyhow, but to be a wrestler of his caliber and going through what he went through to get to the top is remarkable.”
And being called champ is something that still needs time to sink in.
“I saw Carter in passing a couple weeks ago and I said, ‘Do you know you won a state championship?’ He’s like, ‘This actually happened. Do you believe it?’ Once in a while I’m like, ‘Pleasant has a state champ? Oh yeah!’ It is surreal,” Robinson said.
With seconds to go, it didn’t seen possible, but Chase made it so.
“I didn’t sniff a takedown there for a while to all of a sudden Carter snatches it,” Robinson said. “It was really a remarkable turnaround and a really fun evening and just a lot of good energy.”
It was a moment where a champion became one.
Fahey Bank Athlete of the Month
Male March Nominees
» Winner: Carter Chase, senior, Pleasant wrestling.
» Winner: Caden Millisor, senior, Marion Harding bowling.
» Isaac Dillon, junior, Elgin basketball.
» Carson Myers, junior, River Valley basketball.
» jason Callahan, senior, Ridgedale bowling.