Patriot’s Day: Braxton Amos named most outstanding high school wrestler in U.S.
PARKERSBURG — Wrestling extraordinaire Braxton Amos continues adding awards to the trophy case in what has been a very busy honors season for him.
After winning the state and regional Dave Shultz High School Excellence Awards given out annually by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, on top of his second straight Robert R. Dutton Award, the Parkersburg South alum and Wisconsin-bound grappler tacked on the national version of the DSHSEA via a press release Thursday afternoon.
The Patriot beat out four other regional winners for the award honoring the 1996 Olympic and World champion who had his career cut short when he was murdered in January 1996. The winner was evaluated and selected on the basis of three criteria: success and standout performances and sportsmanship in wrestling; review of GPA and class rank, academic honors and distinctions; and participation in activities that demonstrate commitment to character and community.
For Amos, who says the award compares to the Gatorade Player of the Year honor, the moment came as a surreal experience.
“My club coach Miron Kharchilava trained with Dave Shultz and when he defected from the Soviet Union they trained together. So I grew up from the age of two until now hearing stories and seeing Dave’s picture in the wrestling room. And it is crazy how much time he spent working on his craft and becoming the best wrestler in the world. Just to be mentioned and then win the award means a lot,” said Amos. “I have seen how he impacted everyone he came into contact with and heard stories about how he was a great human being and it is inspiring.”
Amos’ win also reinforced his understanding of Shultz and his mission to be a great all-around person.
The first West Virginia winner fulfilled this desire to emulate the awards’ namesake through multiple service projects with the United Way of the Mid-Ohio Valley. His ground-floor involvement on the student executive board helped this group complete many plans in the MOV and beyond.
Their efforts in raising awareness for hunger and improving literacy in lower income areas of Wood County and surrounding areas drew much thanks.
“I had always heard to give back to your community and I didn’t know where to start until I heard (United Way director) Stacy DeCicco talk about it to someone else and thought I could do this,” said Amos. “The whole organization deserves a big shoutout because DeCicco knew how committed I am to being the best in school and wrestling, but they let me participate and it has been great.”
Somehow he juggled school, training and volunteering perfectly over the past four years. His freshman year stood as his lone moment of respite as he concentrated solely on homework and rehab from his torn ACL. “But every summer the past three years I have been in either Colorado Springs or Columbus or wherever I can training. And going into the fall I am still training and lifting and getting stronger but now I have advanced placement and honors homework on top of being back at school and wanting to hang out with my friends. Before you know it Super 32 rolls around and then Ironman comes and you have all the different things to juggle. And it is stressful, but fun at the same time,” said Amos.
Parkersburg South and the school’s administration helped him out a lot this past year. “They made my schedule what I needed it to be whether it was giving me an online class or moving another one around so I could travel or train. I was even going to finish high school in Madison (home of UW) the last nine weeks to get ready for college before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“Everyone threw in a little bit and it is turning out pretty good,” said Amos. “It has definitely been a special year and I think the Kenny Chesney song ‘Don’t Blink’ sums it up perfectly. I was talking to one of our freshmen earlier this year and I told him not to blink because it goes by a lot quicker the closer you move to graduation. When I think about it I haven’t stopped moving since summer training for football. I went from football to wrestling and wrestling to COVID. And looking back on it, it all went by so fast.”
Now that award season is largely over, Amos waits for the call to the Big 10 school’s campus where he plans to continue to represent the people of West Virginia to the best of his ability while making the Mountain State proud.
He hopes his wrestling path leads him to the Olympics one day, it would be another special honor for the young man who has already done so much for W.Va.
“I really couldn’t imagine a better person winning this award,” said Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith. “It is amazing because when most people think about him they think about the wrestler and he is just a super athlete who honestly can probably do just about anything he wanted to do. Outside the wrestling room he is a good person and his wrestling ability might overshadow that but after wrestling his is going to have a successful future off the mat.”