PREP WRESTLING: LaRue County's Carman lets his performance do his talking (02/14)

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By Josh Claywell

B.J. Carman isn’t one to boast about his achievements for the LaRue County Hawks.

The 182-pound senior knows there’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness, and he doesn’t want to cross it.

Instead, he’ll let his on-the-mat work speak for itself. Entering this weekend’s KHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena, Carman is 53-1 and one of the favorites to win a state title.

“My parents always taught me to be humble,” Carman said. “You can be good at what you do, but don’t get cocky, because there’s always somebody better than you. It’s the way I’ve been since I was little.”

You won’t hear Carman bragging about anything, which is the way LaRue County coach Gary Canter prefers it.

“That’s the way I would like everyone to be,” Canter said. “Some are more flamboyant. We had Todd Allen, who has a state champion and a two-time All-American, who didn’t mind telling you he was the best kid. And he believed he was the best. With B.J., you won’t hear him ever say that. He just goes in and takes care of business and doesn’t look for the limelight.”

Even though Carman doesn’t seek attention, he hopes the spotlight is on him during Saturday night’s state finals.

Carman placed third at 195 last season and eighth at heavyweight in 2011 after not qualifying as a freshman and finishing 0-2 at 189 as an eighth-grader in ’09. With a little bit of luck, Carman is aiming for an even higher finish this season.

“I’m ready and hopefully I can come home with a state championship,” he said. “It’ll be the biggest moment in my life. It’s what I’ve wanted for four years.”

Thanks to his physical transformation in the last two years, Canter is confident Carman will cap his career with a state title.

After taking a strength and conditioning class taught by former John Hardin coach Adam Lindsey, Carman has gone from an under-sized heavyweight to a pretty strong 182-pounder.

Carman said he hasn’t lost a lot of weight; he just changed it into muscle.

“It’s helped me get stronger and I’m in a lot better shape,” Carman said of the class he took along with fellow senior Caleb Canter. “Going into this year, a lot of people were telling me I should stay at 195, but I feel I’m a better competitor at 182.”

Gary Canter said coaches from around the state can’t believe how different Carman looks.

“His body has transformed and, through his transformation, so has his ability,” coach said. “I can remember him as a middle schooler and he was just a short, pudgy kid. I hear coaches tell me every week they can’t believe how much his body has changed. He has dropped in weight every year. He wrestled as a heavyweight, then dropped to 195 and now to 182. He has shrunk in size, but he has leaned up and become pretty fit.

“He always moved well, but I never thought he would develop into the body that he has,” he added. “It’s a testament to his hard work and his ability to push himself to want to be successful.”

As a heavyweight, Carman was outweighed each time he stepped on the mat, often giving up 25 pounds – or more.

But it taught Carman to be more technical and not let his lack of size become a factor.

“He was always a way under-sized heavyweight,” Gary Canter said. “Being a small guy, he couldn’t use muscle and he couldn’t use size to overwhelm his opponent, so he had to learn technique. His technique has improved along with his transformation to make him an elite wrestler.”

Just don’t expect to hear that from Carman.

Josh Claywellcan be reached at (270) 505-1752 or jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com.