(New Carlisle, IN) - LaPorte County has in its midst a world-class high school wrestler.
18-year-old Christian Carroll is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 220-pound weight class. His top ranking is based on national tournaments that take place throughout the year.
Carroll qualified for the Pan American Games last summer, but wasn’t able to go due to a passport delay. Now he’s hoping for a place on the US World Championship team. Carroll took second at last year’s World Trials, losing to an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team.
His sights are set on making the Olympics himself. Carroll lacks neither the skills nor the confidence to compete at the highest level. “I think it’s pretty realistic,” he said. “I have a lot left to show as a wrestler. I think my body, my style, fits the mold really well for the international style. I think I wrestle better in that style.” Carroll trains with former three-time All-American Chris Fleeger at Midwest Regional Training Center in New Carlisle.
Carroll is now preparing for the Junior US Open in Las Vegas this April. With a good showing there, he’ll qualify for the World Trials with a chance of competing for a world championship in Bulgaria this August.
But the highlight of his career recently was bringing home a state championship for New Prairie, where Carroll is a junior. Injury and school transfer ineligibility kept him out of IHSAA competition his first two years of high school. Although he’s been wrestling his whole life, Carroll says he felt he turned a corner last year when he started beating college-level wrestlers as a sophomore.
He was relieved this year to check “state championship” off his to-do list. “In my heart, it was one of the biggest things to me,” he said. “This is something I’ve been dreaming for since I was four years old.” Carroll says he’s been in the stands for every state wrestling championship since he was little. “I knew when I was a little kid I wanted to wrestle in college, and I wanted to be a state champ in Indiana. I always dreamed of being under those lights.”
Carroll said he’s also proud of making history for his school. He became the first male athlete from New Prairie to win an individual state title. “After all these years, I finally did it,” he said. “No one can take that away from me.”
Despite the victory, Carroll was a little disappointed in his performance, revealing the perfectionism that drives him. “I felt like I didn’t compete nearly as well as I could have,” he said, reflecting on his state tournament run. “I’ve been training for years. That Christian, I don’t think, was ready to win a world title. So, no, I don’t think I was at my peak.”
Carroll says he plans to wrestle for New Prairie next year and defend his state title. He has already committed to wrestle collegiately at the University of Pennsylvania.
Carroll will be 20 when Paris hosts the Olympic Games in 2024; he’ll be 24 when the games come to Los Angeles. Either one—or both— could be a golden opportunity for the rising wrestling star.