Aaron Brooks, David Carr win NCAA wrestling titles while boldly proclaiming '100% Jesus'

The NCAA wrestling championships were held over the weekend in Kansas City, and as the dust settled from 640 bouts over three days, 10 individual national champions were crowned. Among them were seniors Aaron Brooks of Penn State (which captured the team national title for the 11th time since 2011 under coach Cael Sanderson) and David Carr of Iowa State.

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Wrestling in the 197-pound weight class, Brooks defeated Trent Hilday of N.C. State, 6-1, to win an astounding fourth consecutive individual national championship. Only seven others have accomplished such a feat, one of them being teammate Carter Starocci (174 lbs.) just two matches earlier.

Meanwhile, Carr (165 lbs.) took home his second collegiate national championship with a narrow 9-8 win over Mitchell Mesenbrink of Penn State. Carr’s other national title came in 2021.

Although Brooks and Carr represented different schools throughout the busy weekend in Kansas City, the friends teamed up to take a bold stand for Christ after their matches. Each wore a headband that read “100% Jesus” as they stepped atop the podium to collect their trophies, and in their post-match press conferences.

In fact, Carr was wearing his as Brooks finished his match, and he was the first person to greet Brooks after he concluded a post-match interview with ESPN.

“It might be boring — it’s the truth. It’s the Lord, the Holy Spirit,” Brooks told ESPN when asked what was going through his mind in the final match. “It keeps me calm. It keeps me poised, but I remember it’s bigger than this. These four titles come and go; His Word remains forever.”

Brooks was then asked what he learned most during his journey to four national titles.

“Put faith in the Lord,” he said. “The world tries to come in on you — expectations, labels, whatever it may be. Once again, the only way to Heaven is Jesus Christ, and that’s what I’m here for.”

He continued during his press conference: “God is great. You never know where God is gonna take you. Being 6 years old in the back of the car, GMC, watching those things, I didn’t think I’d be here. So as I said, praise the Lord.”

Brooks, who’s written “Jesus is King” in his Instagram bio, posted photos following his win and captioned the post simply with “1 Timothy 4:16.” The Bible verse reads, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”


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A post shared by Aaron Brooks (@aaron_mbrooks)

Carr pointed Heavenward as he entered for his post-match press conference, and he didn’t hesitate to direct the attention that way.

“Like always, all glory to God,” Carr said in his opening statement. “I prayed before the match, ‘Give me unlimited energy and focus.'”

Carr also turned to Instagram after his victory, where he writes in his bio that he’s “saved by the grace of God” and lists the Bible verse Romans 8:28. That verse reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”


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A post shared by David Carr (@carrchamp)

Both Brooks and Carr have spoken about their faith in Jesus before.

“Christ’s resurrection is everything — not just His life, but His death and resurrection,” Brooks told ESPN after his third national championship a year ago. “You can only get that through Him, the Holy Spirit only through Him, no false prophets, no Muhammad, no anyone else, only Jesus Christ Himself.”

He continued later: “I’m blessed. God used me. He gives me this platform for this right here — to exalt Him. So that’s all it’s for. … It’s all for Him. It’s all for His glory.”

Carr appeared on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in June 2023, and he talked about wrestling for an audience of One.

“I can’t bring a national championship to Heaven,” he said. “I can help bring people to Heaven. We come here as dust, we leave as dust. I can’t bring a bunch of Olympic rings and national championships.

“Can I share my testimony? Can I impact little kids that look up to me? Can I share the Gospel?”

Both Brooks and Carr completed their college eligibility on a high note, glorifying God throughout, and now turn their attention to the U.S. Olympic Trials to be held April 19-20 at Penn State. The 2024 NCAA champions automatically qualify for the trials, but the competition will be stiff because each country is only allowed one wrestler per weight class.

Brooks would likely compete in the 190-pound Olympic freestyle class, where he’d have to beat defending world and Olympic champion David Taylor. Carr would likely be in the 163-pound freestyle class with Kyle Dake, a four-time gold medalist in the world championships and 2021 Olympic bronze medalist.

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