Javonta Ross gets pin and title of ‘champion’

  • Wrestler Javonta Ross, a senior at Barnwell High School,was undefeated at both Lower State and State playoffs in the 285-weight class.

Javonta Ross knows what it takes to be a champion. The Barnwell High School senior says it takes both mental and physical focus.

Ross, 19, of Barnwell, recently became the state wrestling champion in the 285-pound weight class. This is particularly special since this is the first full season Ross has competed in wrestling. In addition, Barnwell High has reinstated its wrestling program only in the last three years.

“My sophomore year I only competed in two matches before getting injured,” said Ross. During his junior year Ross says he took the role of “practice dummy” but didn’t compete. During that time Coach Roth worked individually with Ross, challenging him to work harder and strive for success.

“Wrestling tests you both physically and mentally,” said Ross. “Mentally, you have to have the mindset to push through the pain and exhaustion. Physically, you have to prepare to take on your opponent. That means a lot of conditioning, lifting weights, getting faster.”

That effort paid off. As a senior, Ross finished the 2016-17 regular season with a 19-1 record. He won all three of his matches at Lower State with pins.

Going to the state competition in Columbia, Ross says he had to “get right” mentally. “I listened to music and worked to get myself excited. I told myself, ‘You came this far. You can’t lose it now.’”

At the state level he won his first two matches by points but, in his final match against an athlete from Landrum, Ross pinned his opponent to become state champion.

“It was amazing,” said Ross of his win. “This was the last match of the last sport of my last year in high school. I was so excited.”

Ross has also been a member of the Warhorse football and track teams.

He credits his coaches and teammates for his success. “Coach Roth worked with me individually and pushed mentally. I appreciate what he did for me,” said Ross. “Everyone on the team helped me.”

Cheering from the bleachers was his mom, Latonya Ross. “That’s my number one fan right there,” Ross said. “Before every match she’d say, ‘Bring it home, baby, bring it home.’”

Becoming a champion has had an impact on the Barnwell senior. “I’ve been given a lot of respect. It’s nice.”

What Ross says he is proud of is “making my school and my town proud, putting Barnwell on the map.”

He urges other young men to give the sport of wrestling a try. “It can be brutal and exhausting but it is also fun,” said Ross. “Come out and give it a try.”

After graduation Ross plans to attend Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. and is still undecided on his major. While Catawba doesn’t offer a wrestling program, Ross is hopeful the college will in the future.

Until then, he is enjoying a golden moment and a title he has earned.

He’s a state champion.