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Landstown wrestler Adonis Lattimore inspires by winning state title without legs

Landstown wrestler Adonis Lattimore inspires by winning state title without legs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (BVM) – Adonis Lattimore had been overcoming obstacles his entire life. A wrestling match wasn’t going to stop him now. While he’s been in a number of matches throughout his wrestling career since he started as a second grader, no match had such significance or pressure as this one. Facing Korlan Tran of Lake Braddock in the Virginia High School League Class 6 106-pound state championship match, Lattimore was one win away from the goal he had set since he was an eighth grader: being a state champion.  

“I said I was going to be a state champion in fifth grade, but I didn’t get serious about it until eighth grade,” Lattimore said.

After a scoreless tie in the first round, Lattimore would take a 2-1 lead at the end of the second before earning a key takedown in the third to earn the 5-1 victory. He was a state championship wrestler, something only the few who knew him and followed his career could’ve expected. Perhaps nobody, not even Lattimore himself, may have expected this result when he was little because unlike his fellow wrestling teammates Lattimore was born without full legs and with only one finger on his right hand.

“It was just this ecstatic feeling that I had won,” Lattimore said. “It was the strongest emotion. I couldn’t even hear the crowd behind me until I saw the video.”

Lattimore’s story has quickly spread throughout the country. Numerous tweets about the performance have gone viral, an AP story about his victory has found publication in hundreds of newspapers across the country and he even got a shoutout from former Division I NCAA wrestling champion and three-time All-American Anthony Robles, who won the championship despite being born with only one leg.

“I’m just trying to settle back in after winning and accomplishing my goal,” Lattimore said. “[The week’s] been pretty hectic dealing with interviews and doing school.”

While the win may have been a little unexpected by those in the audience, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise to Lattimore or the people in his circle. That’s because they know the amount of energy, effort, dedication and heart the wrestler put into his craft to get to this point, it was just a matter of leaving it all out on the mat.

Following his sophomore year, Lattimore readjusted his mindset to reach his goals, focusing more in the weight room and film study. (Courtesy: Landstown Wrestling Program)

Lattimore set his sights on the state championship when he was only in eighth grade, but his mettle was tested numerous times during his high school career. As a freshman, Lattimore was able to make it to the Region A tournament, but was quickly bounced out of the competition. As a sophomore, he didn’t perform well enough to make the regional tournament, let alone make a run for a state title.

“After my sophomore year I decided to put a lot more work in than I was,” Lattimore said. “I lifted more weights, conditioned and studied more videos.”

With a renewed focus, Lattimore pushed himself harder than he ever did before during his junior year offseason, but then the COVID-19 pandemic happened which canceled the postseason and any chance for a state title run.

“Our regionals ended up getting canceled after a member on our team got COVID and we had to quarantine,” Lattimore said. “It was a bit disappointing at first, but then I realized I had one more year to make a run so I decided to dismiss my junior year and head into my senior year…I made sure I was doing my best through the entire season and making sure I was in top shape for every tournament that we had.”

Lattimore was finally able to achieve his goal during the final wrestling match of his Landstown Eagles career. (Courtesy: Landstown Wrestling Program)

This year, Lattimore attacked the season like it was his last because it was his last chance to leave Landstown as a state champion. He performed well enough to go 22-5 heading into the regional tournament, but again was dealt an obstacle.

Unfortunately, Lattimore would not be a regional champion. He fell in the regional final to the only person in his weight class seeded higher than him, No. 1 seed Ian Arnett from Kellam High School.

“It pushed me forward,” Lattimore said. “After that loss, I sort of bounced back because I had coaches and family who told me the regionals didn’t really matter, making the state mattered and the state tournament was when it really counted. After that I tried even harder, had my best practices of the year that week and went into the championship confident.”

Having earned qualification into the state tournament, Lattimore once again had to push himself and his body to its furthest limit. On Feb. 19, Lattimore would face off against Robinson High School’s Kaden Smith in the semifinal round, winning a close 4-3 match. He would also receive help from the other side of the bracket as Tran defeated Arnett 8-2 to set up the state title match. The rest is history.

After achieving his goal of being a state champion, Lattimore feels he can accomplish any other goal he puts his mind to and hopes others can use his story for their own pursuits. (Courtesy: Jerrold Lattimore)

While his high school goal has been reached, Lattimore isn’t done yet. His goal is to continue wrestling at the collegiate level. Being a state champion will certainly help those prospects.

“[My story] has helped a little bit,” Lattimore admitted. “I think the future looks pretty bright. I mean I already accomplished one goal so it’s not impossible to accomplish another goal.”

Regardless of if he continues his career at the next level or not, expect Lattimore to continue to inspire through his relentless pursuit of his dreams and his positive attitude.

“Anything is possible if you work towards it and persevere,” Lattimore said. “I would say always look for ways to improve even if it’s just a little bit. Keep looking for ways to improve and you’ll see the results eventually.”

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