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June 23, 2014

Athlete of the Year

By: Jimmy Robertson

Devin Carter | R-Junior | Christiansburg, Virginia

On Dec. 6, in a match against Virginia’s Joe Spisak at the Las Vegas Invitational, Devin Carter felt pain in his hamstring and knew the injury was serious.

Sure enough, he needed surgery to repair an avulsion, or a tearing away, of his hamstring from his pelvis, and doctors told him that it would take at least six months to recover. That meant his wrestling season would be over.

But Carter refused to accept that and rehabbed feverishly to get back on the mat. Days before the ACC Championship, Carter received clearance to begin competing, completing an astounding recovery. The Christiansburg, Virginia, native went on to win his third ACC championship, become a two-time All-American and nearly win a national championship.

For that, Carter is the Inside Hokie Sports’ Athlete of the Year.

Carter becomes the first wrestler to be named the magazine’s athlete of the year since the publication’s staff started doing this in 1995. Previous winners include Erick Green, Alexander Ziegler (twice), Angela Tincher (twice), Spyridon Jullien (twice), Marcel Lomincky (twice), Dorotea Habazin, Queen Harrison, Kevin Jones, Bryant Matthews, Lee Suggs, Andre Davis, Corey Moore, Katie Ollendick, Jim Druckenmiller and Cornell Brown.

After he came back from the injury, Carter nearly did the unthinkable in late March – win a national championship. Despite not being 100 percent, the No. 4 seed at 141 pounds pinned Buffalo’s Nick Flannery in the first round at the NCAA Wrestling Championship and methodically beat No. 13 seed Stephen Dutton of Michigan by an 11-7 score. In the quarterfinals, he escaped No. 12 seed Richard Duson of Franklin & Marshall 4-3 to advance to the semifinals of the weight class.

In the semifinals, Carter faced a familiar opponent in No. 9 seed Evan Henderson of North Carolina, who had upset the top seed in the quarterfinals. But Carter had beaten Henderson numerous times before, and beat him again, this time by a 12-3 count.

That set up the championship match against No. 2 seed Logan Stieber of Ohio State – a two-time national champion coming into the match. Winded, and on a tired leg, Carter fell 10-1 to Stieber and finished second in the nation at 141 pounds. That marked the best finish ever by a Tech wrestler at the NCAA Championship.

Carter won his third ACC title three weeks prior to the NCAAs, beating Maryland’s Shyheim Brown 23-8 in the semifinals and outlasting Pittsburgh’s Edgar Bright 6-1 in the finals. The win over Bright sealed the team title for the Hokies, who won the championship for the second straight year, and Carter took home the Most Outstanding Wrestler honor at the meet.

Carter finished the year with an 18-1 record. Nine of those wins came by pin, two by technical fall and two by major decision.

Off the mat, Carter was named the ACC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He graduated this spring with a degree in psychology and currently is pursuing a master’s degree.

Carter takes an 89-13 record into his senior season, including a perfect 11-0 mark in ACC competition.