T.C. grad, wrestler, grapples with adversity

T.C. grad, wrestler, grapples with adversity

Quintas McCorkle drew interest from big-name colleges early on in his wrestling career, but when his SAT scores came out lower than expected the offers suddenly dried up.
Prepared to settle for a Division II or III school, McCorkle, a T.C. Williams graduate, jumped when Division I Clarion University showed interest. Despite winning state titles in high school, McCorkle went 1-13 his freshman year at the Pennsylvanian university. 
Now in his junior year, the Alexandria native is 6-2 and knocked off the 10th-ranked wrestler in the country earlier this season. Though his is a success story, none of it came easily, McCorkle said.
It was a lot of overtime work, he said. I worked with some of my teammates and after practice I was always lifting. It was real hard work before I started seeing the benefits.
Its been all hard work since the beginning. McCorkle started wrestling as a weight loss program. A 330-pound high school freshman, he dreamed of gridiron glory. But first he needed to get in shape.
He was weighing 330 when he was playing football. He was a little slow and he realized he had to do something special, said McCorkles father, Sampson. Wrestling was special for him from the beginning. He had to work hard trying to match the weight He had a good work ethic and when he started working out hard, he lost about 80 pounds [in one year].
Though McCorkle took to the wrestling mat immediately, he still wanted to focus on football. A coach convinced him the sport was worth staying with after the end of his freshman year. A year later he was in the state tournament. Two years later he had his first state title. 
But McCorkles athletic and academic success he graduated with a 3.5 GPA werent enough to buoy his low SAT scores. The schools once courting him were no longer answering his calls and McCorkle almost gave up hope.
It was real difficult, he said. My mom and dad had high hopes of me going to college. I knew I was going to college somewhere, but I wanted to go into a big time program.
Signing with Clarion was a good choice, he said. The school is small, the community tight-knit and he feels like part of a family. Everyone looks out for him.
Virginia Tech or Pennsylvania State might have bigger names and campuses, but theres more opportunity for trouble too, he said. 
His father agrees.
I always preached to him: always have not one, not two, but four options, Sampson said. They take good care of him and make sure that hes OK and he dont do nothing that will jeopardize anything. They treat him like a family.
Not that the transition from high school to college level wrestling came without a few fits and starts. Every game was like a state championship game, McCorkle said. The intensity, the skill, everything was tougher the bar had been raised.
Drawing on his past, McCorkle bucked down and applied himself. He met with coaches, practiced and lifted, lifted, lifted. He won the wrestling programs most improved award a year later. 
McCorkle is a thinking mans wrestler now. He can see whats going to happen three moves ahead during a match; he relies on strategy and awareness of the mat more than brute strength. 
Even at the top of his sport, slowing down isnt an option.
Its these basic skills you learn when youre young, you just have to perfect that and these guys were doing it diligently every day, he said. You have to get into the mind set that Im going to be the best wrestler.