The Last Wrestler
D.C.'s last wrestler turned out pretty damn OK.
Clint Billings wrestled for Wilson Senior High School during the 2004-2005 season. He was the only guy on the school wrestling team. And Wilson was the only DCIAA school that had even one wrestler that year.
No DCIAA school, not even Wilson, has fielded a wrestling team since.
I'd lost touch with Billings since the 2004-2005 school year, when I wrote a story about him called "One Child Left Behind." I was amazed that a kid would go through all the crap of not only planning his own workouts but actually arranging his own matches in area private school tournaments after learning that his own school system had abandoned him.
I got a call this week from his father, Kevin Billings, to let me know how Clint's doing.
He graduates with honors on June 22 from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where he wrestled all four years. Billings' decision to stick with wrestling at Wilson after D.C. schools gave up on the sport helped get him into the college. He'll soon be commissioned as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy and is scheduled to be deployed to Japan.
"I know his dad's pretty proud of him," says Kevin Billings.
The disappearance of wrestling from the city's schoolboy sports scene is just one symptom of the rotten lot D.C. kids get compared to their public school peers in the suburbs or private school students in town.
I'm sure there are bigger problems with D.C. schools than the way the system treats its athletes. But since getting that call from Mr. Billings, none come to mind.