For Carr, wrestling is all in family Westminster coach tries to instill pride

January 14, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Westminster wrestling coach Solomon Carr still remembers returning home after competing in his first official wrestling tournament.

He was in the second grade at the time and ended up going against a cousin who was in the fourth grade.

He said he got "crushed," and when he got home, all of his brothers and sisters made him do extra chores for losing.

"I wanted to get out of wrestling then and there. They gave me no slack at all," Carr said.

He did, but only until the fifth grade. When you're a Carr brother in Erie, Pa., it's almost a given you are going to wrestle and wrestle well.

Carr has eight brothers -- seven of whom wrestled -- along with seven sisters. Their ages range from 47 to 27, with Solomon one of the youngest at 29.

Some of the finest wrestling in the United States came out of the Carr household. The family became prominent enough to be written up in Sports Illustrated in the late '80s.

Older brothers Nate and Jimmy both competed in the Olympics. Nate earned a bronze medal in 1988, and Jimmy, at 16, became the youngest wrestler to compete in the Olympic games during the '70s.

"Jimmy was the biggest influence to me," Carr said. "To compete in the Olympics at 16 is remarkable. He had so much talent and used it to the fullest -- he was a big inspiration."

Plenty of smiles emerge on Carr's face when he reflects on his memorable childhood.

"Competitive? Yeah," he said. "Stories? Plenty."

"We used to wrestle everywhere. We really tore up Mom's furniture. We wrestled each other harder than anyone else. I learned more from my brothers than any coaches."

Carr recalled the "mini tournaments" the family would have. He said it was his sister Lena who came away the winner on a regular basis.

"She was a real scrapper," he said. "Until we got to the the high school age."

The Erie Tech High School wrestling record book reads like a chapter of the Carr family tree.

Solomon owns the record for most wins in a season after going 56-1 in his senior year. That mark broke brother Nate's feat two years earlier when he went 41-0.

Before following Nate to Iowa State University, Carr finished his high school career with 96 pins.

His college career never got off the ground. After redshirting his freshman year, he tore up his ankle during his second year and did the same the following one. He didn't wrestle in his senior year.

"After I tore it up the first time, I figured I'd just have to work a little harder and everything would work out. The second time was very discouraging, and I didn't wrestle my senior year," he said.

"Everybody has thought, 'What if I'd have done this?' or 'What if I'd done that?' but you can ask all the 'what ifs' you want and it's not going to change anything, so I just try not to look back too much."

Now he's in his fourth year coaching at Westminster with a family of his own. He and his wife, Susan, have a 2-year-old son, Trent (who already has mastered the headlock and single takedown) and a 4-month-old girl, Taylor.

Along with coaching, Carr works with abused children at a private institution in Randallstown.

He says there are ups and downs in coaching. The rewards come with the overachievers, while he also sees some wrestlers come through with all the tools and little dedication.

"Wrestling is die-hard in Pennsylvania. That's what I'm used to and trying to instill at Westminster," he said.

He believes the competition in Carroll is among the best in the state.

"I don't think the people in Maryland give Carroll enough credit," he said. "We have a lot of talent up here with North Carroll, Key and Westminster. South Carroll is a sleeper as well."

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