Ever since he was 4 years old, Kyle Sharp has spent much of his time rolling around on wrestling mats.
“My parents signed me up one year and I just stuck with it ever since,” said Sharp, a senior at Carson High. “I was good at when I was little. I was very physical. It (the sport) has grown on me a little bit.”
“I’ve seen a lot of guys who start at a young age who burn out and quit,” CHS coach Paul Carter said. “For him to stick it out speaks to his commitment.”
And, Sharp has been good for the sport and represented it well.
With a little more than a month remaining in his high school career, the 132-pound, Sharp (24-6, 17 pins) has his eye on the one high school prize that has eluded him, an individual state championship. He’s grabbed a fourth and third the last two years, and he’d like nothing better than to stand at the top of the podium in Primm in late February. McQueen’s Kenny Vandall, who placed sixth at the Sierra Nevada Classic and Green Valley’s Jared Brathor, a three-time state placer, appear to be his biggest obstacles in the north and south, respectively.
“I’d really like to win a state,” Sharp said prior to Thursday’s practice. “Given what I’ve seen at the (Reno Tournament of Champions) and SNC (8th), it’s a good possibility. We’ll just see how things work out.”
Both of his coaches, Carter and Tim McCarthy, think it’s a realistic goal to shoot for.
“It’s a very attainable goal,” Carter said. “Obviously things have to work out the right way for him. He’s great kid, and his wrestling speaks for itself.”
“He definitely has a good shot at winning state,” McCarthy said. “He’s met some pretty formidable opponents (recently) and he’s been wrestling well. Probably the best down south is Brathor.”
Sharp said he got a chance to watch Brathor once at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions. Both wrestled Poway’s Adrian Tovar, who beat Sharp 7-1 and Brathor 8-3.
“If I wrestle as tough as I did against the guy from Poway, I have the chance to win state.
“Vandall was sixth at the SNC, but I had to wrestle the No. 1 seed early the second day. I just have to go out and wrestle.”
Sharp, who is happy-go-lucky away from the mat and all business on it, will be working harder than ever to achieve his dream of having his name added to the wrestling room wall. Carson has 16 individual state champions (Scott Kuhlman won twice), including Carter, the current head coach.
“There is always something you can do to try to perfect a move or your technique,” Sharp said. “You are always looking for the best way to do things; finding the best way to perfect a simple shot. It’s something that comes natural.”
And, when you enjoy something, preparation isn’t considered work.
McCarthy didn’t hesitate when asked what makes Sharp such a good wrestler.
“The important things are his quickness, balance and explosion,and he’s not afraid to work hard,” the former head coach said. “And, he’s had a great support system. His parents have been there the whole time. There are so many sacrifices parents of wrestlers have to make.”
“He has good work ethic,” Carter said. “He consistently picks up guys in the room. He enjoys what he’s doing.”
The biggest improvement for Sharp has been his aggressiveness. He’s been adept at shooting and taking down his opponents.
“My freshman year, coach McCarthy drilled into me to act not react,” Sharp said. “I didn’t want to beat myself out there.”
The past two-plus years, Sharp has been strong on his feet and in the top position.
“He’s been pretty dominant in those two areas,” Carter said. “We’ve been working the last couple of years on his bottom position; improving in that area.”
When he’s not inflicting pain on the mat, you will see Sharp at almost every home athletic event. He’s liable to come with his face and/or body painted, and he’s been in a toga before. He seemed to be the ringleader of the student cheering section at football games.
“I was helping out Mariah (Whitcome, wrestling manager) with her senior project,” Sharp said. “Her project was to spread school spirit.”
Sharp was quite an athlete when he was younger, playing soccer, baseball, basketball, football and wrestling. He played youth football in Carson City, but never really grew. He weighed less than 100 pounds his freshman year, which meant football wasn’t a viable option.
“When I look back at the success the football team had I wished I would have played,” Sharp said. “I didn’t want to hurt myself.”
Despite his wiry frame, he’s managed to put the hurt on wrestlers around Northern Nevada.