MINOOKA — Officially, nine opponents have defeated Carson Oughton, who has 29 wins, during his freshman season as a member of the Minooka varsity wrestling team.
Unofficially, one opponent has handed Oughton many more losses than that by himself.
Oughton admits that, like many pairs of brothers, he and Minooka senior wrestler Corbett Oughton will occasionally tussle. And while the younger Oughton already has accomplishments like an IKWF Senior state championship and a Southwest Prairie Conference title on his resume, he acknowledges that wins over Corbett have been tough to come by.
"It's getting a little bit closer. I get him occasionally, but he usually handles me," Carson said this week at practice. "Maybe every other week, I'll catch him off guard."
Corbett says that his dominance of his brother is not just physical in nature.
"I think I'm in his head a little bit," he said. "He gets me every now and again, but I usually toss him around."
In bouts that count, Carson has more than held his own for the Indians. He enters this weekend's Class 3A Joliet Central Regional with a team-high victory total. And while freshmen that contribute at the varsity level for a program like Minooka tend to do so at the lowest weights — Corbett, for example, was a 103-pounder for the Indians' state-championship team in 2010 — Carson just won the 145-pound class at the SPC Tournament last weekend.
"Most freshmen that try to wrestle at 145 struggle. He's been at 45 — and he's not a big 45 — and he's been winning," Minooka coach Jeff Charlebois said of Carson.
"He's had to learn to compete and make some adjustments — technically, and as far as learning how to practice, how to work. Those things are magnified 10-fold at the high school level from juniors wrestling, and he's done a great job, once he made some adjustments, of adapting to the jump."
Corbett became a three-time SPC champion last weekend. His 10-0 major-decision win over Andrew Chastain of Oswego East in the 152-pound finals was just his fifth victory of the season, against two losses. He had been sidelined from late November until a Jan. 17 dual at Oswego East with a dislocated elbow.
The injury has limited Corbett's time to get used to wrestling at the heaviest weight of his career. In 2008, he was a 95-pound IKWF Novice state champion. He competed in the state series as a 103-pounder in 2010 and a 112-pounder in 2011 before making the jump up to 145 in 2012. Last year, he finished fourth in the 3A Individual State Tournament.
"It's a lot different at 152," Corbett said. "I was used to wrestling at around 100 pounds for years and years. I was used to going up against smaller kids. But since I've got here, I've worked hard to be as strong as everyone else."
As Corbett has moved up through the weight classes, his role with the Indians has similarly grown, says Charlebois.
"Corbett has already been part, and an important part, of a state-championship team, contributing as a 103-pounder as a freshman," Charlebois said. "He's come a long way since then. He's worked his way up from being an undersized 3-pounder to a 152-pound wrestler. He's a leader. He's gone from a small freshman to a senior leader."
Carson, whose 2012 IKWF title came at 156 pounds, has not had to adjust to heavier weights during his first high-school season. He has had to adjust to facing more experienced competition, but he has kept his expectations for himself high.
"I hadn't really been focusing on (winning conference). My focus was more on regionals and sectionals and the whole state series," Carson said. "But it is a nice accomplishment."
Carson has already impressed his older brother — at least in what he has done for the Indians, if not in their own bouts.
"He's done pretty well for himself," Corbett said. "Most freshman that wrestle at the weights he's at get tossed around, but he's done a really good job. He's had a good year, and I expect him to have three more good years in this program."