Inspiring blind wrestler concludes prep career with 20 victories

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

Forgive Avery Ingram for ignoring the "seeing is believing" idiom.

The Sheldon (Eugene, Ore.) High senior just concluded his prep wrestling career with 20 victories. That's impressing enough for any high school wrestler and even more remarkable when you consider Ingram has been blind since age 2.

Ingram's path to glory was chronicled in this feature in Oregon's Register-Guard. He can be seen in green recording one of his 20 career victories in the embedded video.

Despite a tumor in his eye that left him without his sight as a toddler, Ingram grew up learning kung fu before joining Sheldon's wrestling squad as a high school freshman.

“Avery did better than I could have ever expected,” Sheldon coach Elias Soto told The Register-Guard. “He came to wrestling as a freshman, and I thought he might be trying it out because that is what a lot of kids do at that age. That wasn’t the case with Avery.

"What makes wrestling unique is that it caters to people with disabilities, it measures your mental toughness and heart while other sports are so fixated on athletic ability," added Soto, who wrestled at nearby Churchill (Eugene, Ore.) High. "Wrestling was instantly a fit for Avery, something he could sink his teeth into and be successful."

After winning just four matches in his first two seasons on the Irish, Ingram earned six victories as a junior and 10 in the 145-pound division as a senior.

“I liked wrestling, but learning the moves was difficult,” Ingram told the paper, so he started researching the sport, borrowing books on technique from the library. His passion inspired his brothers Devon (two years older) and Tyler (two years younger) to join the team, and they would help explain their coach's instructions to Avery.

While state prep wrestling rules require opponents to maintain contact with blind competitors, according to The Register-Guard, Avery Ingram knows better than anybody that the disadvantages of being visually-impaired vastly outweigh that possible edge.

“That helps a lot, but people break contact sometimes even though they aren’t supposed to,” he said. “I can pretty much tell where people are. If we are both standing up, I can tell by where their arms are. Usually, I don’t shoot for the legs because I can’t tell if one leg is forward. If one is forward, you are supposed to do one move, and if both are forward, you do another, so I don’t shoot for the legs. I go for the arms or go with a bear hug.”

If not for Avery Ingram's incredible story, you'd have to see it to believe it.

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