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Jacob Carter: A Heavyweight on the Mat and on His Knees

Published on October 02, 2023

Scott Barkley

As a state wrestling champion, Jacob Carter has become known for wins. His biggest, however, happened before he even stepped onto the mat last season during his senior year.

Prior to each match, Carter prayed to the Lord. He asked for strength and success.

“I didn’t do it to get noticed,” he said. “When I pray, it gives me confidence about my match and more strength. It boosts my spirits up.”

Attention wasn’t his goal, but it followed nonetheless in Swoope, Virginia, a community of around 1,800 and at Buffalo Gap High School (BGHS), a school of less than 500 students.

Pray in MeetNotoriety increased as Carter became a state champion wrestler over the course of four years. Carter’s leadership through FCA also provided a platform where peers could approach him about having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“When I think of one word to describe Jacob, it’s ‘leader,’” said Billy Coombe, FCA Huddle coach at BGHS who coached Carter on the offensive and defensive lines for the football team.

Before his freshman year, Carter played football, and he was also recruited to the wrestling team. They needed a heavyweight, but Carter was 197 pounds at the time. He packed on nearly 15 pounds to get to the required weight.

His goal was to make the state tournament, which took the top three finishers at the regional tournament. His freshman year, Carter finished fourth. As a sophomore, he finished third, but COVID-19 restrictions only allowed the top two in each region to go, so he missed the state tournament again.

After that, Carter grew frustrated and angry. He was in a bad place spiritually and started to drift from God. One day his mom told him to take a hike into the woods to clear his head. An avid hunter, Carter found solace in nature.

JC 33“She said, ‘I want you to take a walk. You’re going to see something amazing,’” he remembered. “So, I drove to the woods and walked out there, where I saw the biggest 10-point buck I’ve ever seen in my life. I dropped right there to my knees, teared up and started praising God.

I drove home and told my mom it was time for me to start working.”

His workout regime had increased each year, but Carter also started praying before matches.

“I felt the Holy Spirit give me strength,” he said, “I won more tournaments.”

He made it to state junior year and finished fourth. At a thick-yet-agile 245 pounds, he made it to state again as a senior. Projected to finish third, he faced the top contender in the final. By this time, people knew about Carter praying before each match. It drew support from fans beyond Buffalo Gap.

In the final match on Feb. 18, Carter kept his cool and scored two crucial points on a takedown, then held on for a 3-1 win and the Virginia Class 1 heavyweight championship.

JC 2Carter went on to enter a tournament against other state champions with the chance to be named All-American. He won two matches and was ahead 6-1 against the Utah state champ before suffering a shoulder injury and having to withdraw. But he made his hometown proud.

Now graduated from high school, Carter has begun his first year at Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia, and will wrestle for the Maroons.

He went 54-3 his senior year, a BGHS record, and he currently also holds the record for the most pins in a season.

His biggest contributions can’t be measured in numbers, though.

“Jacob’s a prime example of being a leader of faith in any environment,” said Coombe. “We’re a very small school. But Jacob shows how you can take a place like this and turn it into something special. He had the whole community rally around him.”



Pray for Jacob as he begins his collegiate wrestling career and that the Lord would surround him with people who will pray for him and encourage his faith.

If you’d like to learn more about FCA in the Shenandoah Valley, visit blueridgefca.org or email Ken Gorby: kgorby@fca.org.


Photos courtesy of Billy Coombe