Standing on top of the medals stand in front of an announce 11,308 fans in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, a smiling Glenn Carson couldn't help but feel more relieved than anything.
Twice bested in the state finals in 2007 and 2008, the 2009 New Jersey state 215-pound wrestling title was the culmination of a fantastic grappling career for the future Penn State linebacker.
Carson scored a 3-1 decision in the finals for a win over Highland Regional's Joe Grisko, giving Southern Regional its fourth state wrestling champion. He closed his career with 140 wins to just 12 losses, and won four district titles, three regional title and qualified for states all four years of his varsity career.
"It's awesome," exclaimed Carson. "Taking second in the state twice in my sophomore and junior years, and this was really my last chance to redeem myself. So this was my last opportunity, and taking second last year really took a toll on me and it was kind of a beast of burden. The only way that I could cope with that pain would be to win the state title this year."
The top-ranked 215-pounder in the state, Carson didn't have an easy road to the finals. Up 2-1 in the waning seconds of a semifinal match against Bob Grogan of Delbarton, Carson was whistled for stalling, negating a point and sending the match into overtime.
He then scored a takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime to score a 4-2 decision.
"At no point in that match did I feel threatened or unsure that I was going to win, it was just kind of that I was riding the kid on top and I really couldn't turn him, so with like a minute left I couldn't let him up either," he said. "It was kind of a bad situation, I should have taken him down in the first period, but I didn't. I still feel like I dominated that match, but it just so happened that it went into overtime."
All in all, it wasn't an easy season for the four-star prospect, either. Last week, Carson battled a stomach virus that put him in the hospital, and admittedly wasn't at full strength entering the tournament. He also missed about a month at the beginning of the season with a back injury, but said things have gotten better recently.
"It's just kind of an achy-pain kind of thing right now, it's nothing real serious anymore," he said. "I took some time off, and it feels good now."
With the gold medal finally around his neck, Carson will now get the rare chance to relax.
"I'm going to probably take a week or two of just nothing," he said. "Wrestling season was long, but I'll be right back in it working out. They gave me that packet of what to work on, so I'll be working on that."
Carson will now have to decide if he wants to don the singlet one more time for nationals, but he is leaning towards hanging up the headgear.
"Nationals are optional, some of my coaches are in my ear about it, but I'm done," he said. "I'm pretty positive that I'm done. That kind of ends that chapter in my life."