Senior Joshua Johnson-Cantrell, “JC,” rests before his next weight-lifting set. On his shirt, it reads “Compete With Purpose,” a reminder to himself and others he’s wrestling to prove his skill.
Senior Joshua Johnson-Cantrell, “JC,” rests before his next weight-lifting set. On his shirt, it reads “Compete With Purpose,” a reminder to himself and others he’s wrestling to prove his skill.
Mie Bakuya

Grapple to glory

Senior wrestler places 11th in state

He still remembers the moment. 

Previous Hebron linebacker coach Austin Kaehn asked a group of students from the football team if they were interested in wrestling. Then-freshman Joshua “JC” Johnson-Cantrell had never thought about doing wrestling, but he found it interesting and joined the wrestling team.

Since then, wrestling has become a hobby he’s wanted to pursue. JC found himself balancing both football and wrestling, and participating on the team until his senior year. 

JC placed 11th out of 224 students at state for wrestling on February 16. Despite not reaching the final stages of the tournament, JC still won in his first two matches to place as one of the top 12 wrestlers in Texas. 

“I was nervous [at regionals] because it was my last chance to make state,” JC said. “I just knew that I would have to leave my mark [at state] or [region at] my last tournament.”

JC spent his senior season of wrestling with a consistent routine of practice on the floor mat, as well as taking care of himself mentally and physically. With this year being his last chance to go to state, he said he wanted to have a consistent schedule to train his body. 

“[I had to] remind myself that I belonged [at state],” JC said. “Physically, [I was] just making sure that I eat right, hydrate [and] get the right amount of sleep.”

Wrestling coach Jacob Green helped the team through the district and regional events. Despite only coaching for the last two years, Green said he noticed JC’s progression throughout his career at Hebron. 

“Last year, [JC lost] weight and went down a weight class after football [season],” Green said. “Moving up to heavyweight [this year] allowed him to play to a lot of his strengths [with his] size and strength. He’s always been really good at staying in position and working his opponent. Heavyweight is really his [advantage].”

Out of the six boys and two girls advancing from district to regional wrestling, JC and sophomore Alexander Barros were the only ones to place. JC placed fourth and Barros placed fifth as an alternate placement at the regional tournament. Barros went to state with JC as a practice partner, and said he was honored to share part of JC’s state experience. 

“Watching [JC] wrestle there, [it] made me realize how bad I wanted to be [in state,]” Barros said. “Next year, I’m definitely going to be at state. I’m not going to be an alternate [again].”

Green said he hoped that the rest of the team was inspired by JC to work harder for next year.

“I think that [district and regionals] was a really good opportunity for [the team] to watch the tournament,” Green said. “[It gave them] something to strive for, and [to] look at the high-level wrestling in Texas. In wrestling specifically, it’s a really hard sport to get confidence in. Once you get [confident] in what you’re doing, you do much better.” 

JC plans on continuing wrestling at Sacred Heart University after graduation. He said he feels his state wrestling experience will help him for next year.

“It was really big to wrestle those matches at state,” JC said. “Getting used to that process and how those matches was big for me to experience. [I] know it’s going to be good for me [in the future].”

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