A high-school wrestler just shocked everyone with his State Championship victory, including his own coach. Jay Spencer is the first athlete in school history, St. John Paul II (Alabama), to achieve a state title, and he's also blind.
Spencer was diagnosed with Leber Congenital Amaurosis 10 (LCA 10) at the age of 3, meaning that his vision is limited to just the corner of one eye. However, this wasn't going to prevent him from playing sports, as he was also on the varsity football team at St. John Paul II high-school.
But he stuck with wrestling because its a feel sport, and can use his instincts. He went 35-2 during the season an stunned the wresting community, starting with his coach.
Even his own coach, James Dowd, had his doubts, but in the end was glad Spencer proved him wrong. "He proved me wrong wrestling against him... It is a touch sport. It’s right in his wheelhouse. You don’t have to see to wrestle". His assistant coach also went on to say that Spencer is the hardest working wrestler he's coached in 25 years.
He has received college interest from several Division II and III programs, but the future has even better news on the horizon. His family was made aware that there could be a procedure to cure LCA 10. It's a gene-editing procedure that locates the the mutated portion of the related gene, and then snips it out. After the surgery, Spencer’s vision would slowly get better over time.
The procedure is still in clinical trials, and Spencer is ready to get the call for the phase 2 surgeries.
Yahoo Sports | 'You don’t have to see to wrestle': Legally blind high school wrestler wins state championship | Liz Roscher
AL.com | ‘You don’t have to see to wrestle’: Legally blind Alabama HS senior chases state title | Daniel Boyette
YouTube | Sports in Alabama | Legally blind wrestler wins state wrestling title
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