Sean Evans wants opponents to give him their best. Actually, he warns they better give him their best.
The Ozark 120-pound junior doesn’t want to have anything to do with an opponent taking it easy on him because he has only one arm.
“Coaches have stopped coaching their kids because they would feel bad for me in a sense,” Evans said of some of the reactions he’s seen and heard since he first started wrestling four years ago. “Usually, I would end up proving them wrong and put their kids on their back.”
Evans feels he gets around on the mat perfectly fine without the benefit of a left arm.
“It’s pretty normal for me because I’ve never known any different,” he said.
Evans underwent a limb amputation of his left arm when he was two months old due to Amniotic Band Syndrome, a rare and random event.
“The umbilical cord was wrapped around my arm so my arm was really under grown,” Evans said. “The doctors waited a couple months to see if my arm would grow. When it didn’t, they took it off.”
Evans was introduced to wrestling by his older brother. When he was in the eighth grade, he decided to try the sport himself.
“I was excited to wrestle because my brother used to do it and he was okay at it,’ Evans said. “I couldn’t do any other sports. I couldn’t do football because I have only one kidney. I ended up liking wresting and have been doing it ever since.”
Over the years, he’s earned the respect of his Tigers teammates in their practice room. They know better than to underestimate him.
“The first time I saw him wrestle, I was blown away,” Ozark 126-pounder Elijah Maskrod said. “What I love about him is he never makes excuses. The more workouts we’re doing, like pushups and pull-ups, the more he does. He never tries to get out of them. It’s crazy to watch him doing pull-ups.”
Evans indeed doesn’t like to be treated any differently than anyone else. But, of course, it’s impossible to ignore he doesn’t have his left arm. When he and his teammates have had discussions about it, they’ve pointed out that from a defensive stance, it could possibly be said Evans has a bit of an advantage.
“Me and the team joke around that it’s not a weakness, it’s a strength,” Evans said. “A lot of people lead with their right, so the opponent will go for their left hand. With me, they don’t have anything to grab, so I think of it as a strength, rather than a weakness.”
Evans debuted on Ozark’s varsity as a freshman and has been a spot starter for three seasons. Starts have been rare this season with the emergence of Wyatt Snyder at 113 pounds and Clayton Moison at 120.
“This year has been tough,” Evans said about cracking the starting lineup. “I can’t go up in weight because I’m too small and couldn’t go down because (106) would be a little too low for me.”
Evans competed at the Branson Tournament last weekend, going 1-3. He filled in for an ailing Moison in the Tigers’ dual with Nixa on Tuesday. He was pinned in 4:38 by the Eagles’ Cole Crahan.
Win or lose, he’s happy to be competing.
“It’s exciting to be out there,’ Evans said. “I don’t know if I’m an inspiration. I just try to do the best I can and I love that feeling of being told I can’t do something and proving people wrong.”