Tavin Wilson, a sophomore studying recreational management and a wrestler for the Knights, is fighting a battle with asthma.
“Everything about asthma makes wrestling harder — from the conditioning, to the endurance, to being slammed, smashed [and] hit,” said Darryl Cunningham, a sophomore studying exercise physiology.
Cunningham has been Wilson’s longtime friend, teammate, and coach.
Cunningham said he has witnessed Tavin push through these difficulties in the past.
Wilson said he doesn’t see his asthma as much of an obstacle, but he admits asthma attacks are difficult.
“[Asthma attacks] suck,” Wilson said. “Your breathing becomes constricted to the point where you are gasping for air and not much is coming in. Your lungs are burning for the want of air, and there is none to give. If you want to get some idea of what it is like, go run some wind sprints, then try breathing through a coffee straw.”
Cunningham has wrestled with Wilson since they were 15. He said that he has only seen Wilson stop wrestling because of asthma a cole of times.
Cunningham said that when Wilson does have to stop, he comes back stronger the next day.
“Asthma is just one more opponent that I have to wrestle with to prove I can come out on top,” Wilson said.
Wilson recalled a moment from his senior year when his asthma flared while wrestling.
“During the third round, my lungs were just on fire, and it felt like someone was squeezing them, making it painful to breathe,” Wilson said. “I just wanted to give and let the other guy beat me.”
Wilson said when he was thinking about giving , he remembered something his father had told him the day before.
“Quitters never win, and winners never quit,” Wilson said. “I didn’t want to be a quitter, so I kept going until I won the match.”
Cunningham said Wilson’s determination spills over into daily life as he balances work, school and wrestling. He said Wilson sometimes stays as late as one or two in the morning with all of his responsibilities.
“Tavin never gives ,” Cunningham said. “He will push and push and push until he has nothing left. He will be red, he won’t be able to breathe, he will be on the brink of exhaustion in wrestling, in life, in school, [but] he will keep going.”
Wilson said he won’t let asthma stop him.
“You can do whatever you want, as long as you put your mind to it,” Wilson said. “Conquer yourself, and you can conquer anything.”