by Bryan Fazio
The saying goes “You can’t win on talent alone.”
Even when that talent gives one the athleticism to play two sports and has been passed along through genetics, champions still have to put in a little extra.
For Tucker senior Carey Cloud, there is definitely enough talent. As a freshman Cloud earned a spot on the Tucker wrestling team and as a sophomore he wrestled his way to a second-place finish in the AAAA state championship tournament.
However, from there his personality, drive and ambition kicked in, helping to make him a state champion in the 152-pound class his junior season and propelling him to an undefeated record (29-0) thus far in his senior year.
The talent comes from his father, Charles Cloud who won the 103-pound state championship when he was in high school, and was passed along to his brother Anthony Cloud, who wrestled in the 215-pound weight class at Tucker before Carey.
The drive, meanwhile, comes from his mother Felicia.
After Cloud lost the state championship his sophomore year, his coaches laid out a plan for him to become a better, more offensively aggressive wrestler. That plan called for more effort than just showing up at practice and leaving when the coaches said the team was done.
Following a full day at school when Cloud finished with his homework there were plenty of times when he started to turn on the TV and melt into the couch. However, for someone wanting to become a state champion and someone living under Felecia Cloud’s roof, that wasn’t going to cut it.
“At times I wanted to give up,” Cloud said. “But, I knew what my goals were. I had pushed, and my mom helped push me. I just kept my trust in God and ee pulled me through.”
An owner of a day-care service, Felecia has kept Cloud going through school, football and wrestling, constantly urging him to do more, and to do whatever he is working at better.
“It’s always been like that,” Cloud said.
That effort led him to a state title after defeating Joshua Lewis of Northwest Whitfield 5-4 last season. He followed his state, performance with an eight place finish in nationals held in Virginia Beach.
Cloud pushed through his junior year where he continued to do whatever the coaches asked by putting in his usual 100 percent effort, and continued to get better.
“He wants to learn the sport, which is really what shows up when he goes out and wrestles,” Tucker wrestling coach Shannon Miller said. “Even when he wins, he talks to me about what he could do better. He’s just a student of the sport.”
This year there’s been plenty of winning. Cloud has rolled through his opponents, mainly having to rely on himself to keep at the absolute best level on the mat. The easy victories have left his coach hoping for some more solid competition before the state tournament on Feb. 18.
“We have the north metro tournament coming up, and hopefully he can get challenged there.” Miller said. “I really don’t want his toughest match to come at state.”
While Miller may be concerned about it, Cloud’s focus has not dwindled due to his lack of appropriate challengers. He has continued to work hard in practice and his weight has dropped from 152 to 145 pounds just on training and running alone.
“It’s not been any dieting at all,” Miller said. “He’s just been working really hard.”
That work ethic has spread to the entire Tucker team, the one that Cloud has been the captain of for the past two years.
During his senior year Cloud has been working on both his individual achievements and that of his team, getting to the point that he and his co-captain Gabriel Miller run the first 35 minutes of each practice by themselves.
“I continue to push myself as well as continuing to push my teammates,” Cloud said. “Last year I focused more on myself and this year I’m focused on all of us getting better together.”
Cloud’s focus is leading him to chase another state championship. But beyond that his sights are set on a loftier goal.
“My ultimate goal is to win the state championship,” Cloud said. “Not only to win state but to go higher than that and win nationals.”