Losing to win; NHS student sheds pounds to hit the mat

By Mary Wendell | Published Saturday, January 19, 2013
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Marshall Austin spent the first two years of his high school career on the wrestling team but never saw a match. This year, that has changed.

The 5’7″ junior weighed in just under 350 pounds his freshman year, much heavier than the UIL’s max weight of 285.

DETERMINED TO COMPETE – Marshall Austin lost 80 pounds to become eligible for the Northwest wrestling team. The junior and Aurora native has a 19-10 record. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I came in as a freshman, and I didn’t have a lot of motivation,” Austin said. “Coach McCready has helped me a lot. All of the coaches here have been on my side the entire time, and that’s really helped.”

The Aurora-native has spent two years struggling to lose the weight but met his goal this year and dropped to 270, allowing him to earn a spot as a varsity heavyweight wrestler.

This weekend, Austin will put his talents on display in front of the home fans at the 12-team Northwest Fan Jam. It is the next to last event before the district meet Feb. 2.

“I can tell a big difference; I feel better,” Austin said. “People see you differently when you’re changing. You’re not the same person anymore.”

Head coach Dan McCready feels like it’s not only the weight loss that makes Austin special, but also his attitude and his determination to keep fighting.

“He was just one of those guys that wanted to wrestle,” McCready said. “He’s a great kid. One thing about him is that he won’t quit fighting.

“The first thing we started on was running across the football field. Then we started him lifting with us and exercising,” he said. “He lost a whole lot of weight at first and was really close to 285, but he didn’t quite make it.”

The trend of being just short of his weight goal of 285 continued into his sophomore year.

“He got through the plateau and hit 285 and then 280 and now 270,” McCready said. “He really got in to shape and got healthy and is on his way down.”

His fighting spirit shows in his weight loss, his dedication to practice and his record, 19-10.

“He fights the entire match through,” McCready said. “We were in Louisiana in a tournament and one of his matches went to overtime, which is hard for a regular weight and he’s a heavyweight. He hits overtime and maneuvers the kid right away and scores so he wins that match.”

McCready calls Austin the heart and spirit of the team.

“One of the things about Marshall is that he’s really part of the team because when he couldn’t wrestle, he was still at practice all the time, and he was always helping our heavyweights get better,” McCready said. “He’s just, ‘What do you need, coach? I’ll show up; I’ll be there if I can help,’ and he cares about everyone on the team.

“He’s pretty much the definition of what we’re striving for here.”

Austin hasn’t had an easy path in life and is flattered that the coach has noticed how hard he works.

“I go in there, and if I see someone struggling, I do what I can to get them moving,” Austin said. “I’m like, if I can do it, you can do it.”

The 17-year-old has flattering words for the coach and the wrestling program at Northwest.

“He is someone I really look up to,” Austin said. “Wrestling has taken my life a total 180. Wrestling and all my coaches have really changed my life.”

When Austin was in seventh grade, his father passed away suddenly, leaving just him and his mom. The teenager began taking care of things around the house and even works during the summer to help out.

“My mom supports me in pretty much everything I want to do,” Austin said. “My mom is awesome. She does a lot, and it’s hard to work the hours she does. I love my mom.”

His mom works full time and goes to school full time.

“I know his home condition isn’t ideal,” McCready said. “He’s got a lot of responsibilities in- and outside the team, and he takes care of it all. He has all his ducks in a row and shows up every day to work hard.”

“He’s a real positive influence to have around,” McCready said.

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