Why He’s Interesting: Despite being born without the lower half of his body, the 106-pound wrestler stole the spotlight last year with a 33-15 record and a trip to the Ohio high school district quarterfinals. And just months after receiving a special racing wheelchair and joining the Massillon Washington High School track team, the senior won state championships in both the 100- and 400-meter seated divisions.
Wind Up: As a kid, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Keeping him focused on certain tasks was difficult, but when Clark joined the wrestling team in middle school, everything changed. “Wrestling gave me a chance to let out all my energy all the time.”
Focus Point: He can bench press 235 pounds — twice his own weight — but knows it takes more than strength to win a match. “When I’m wrestling someone, I’ll look at the space between their feet to see which foot they’re stepping on the heaviest. Sometimes, it’ll be the slightest motion. The window to take someone down closes and opens so fast it’s unbelievable, so you’ve got to have perfect timing if you’re going to take a good guy down.”
Super Bass: Although he was first chair trumpet in the high school band, the drum set beside Clark’s bed is his first love. Clark shifts his weight to make the feet of his stool hit either the hi-hat or bass pedals. “Consistency is very important. If you’re playing in a group, you could mess the whole thing up because everybody follows the beat of the drummer.”
New Beginnings: Clark spent most of his childhood in foster care. When faced with a possible relocation to Cincinnati during his junior year, a friend’s mother, Kimberlli Hawkins, asked if he would be interested in living with her. She has since adopted him. “No one ever showed up to my wrestling matches before. When I saw my mom in the stands for the first time, I was so happy. It meant that she actually cared.”
Building Hope: With plans to transfer to the Kent State Tuscarawas campus in the fall, Clark has his sights set on becoming an architect. “Some of these older buildings you see, you have to think how long it took, how much work had to be done and how much planning had to be done to finish the job. You just know someone worked hard to build that.”
No Limits: This summer, Clark plans to try out for a spot on Team USA’s wheelchair track team. “I want to do something that people will never forget. I want to be the best.”