Of all the words in the English language, "determined" is the one that is continually used by individuals to describe Monett Cubs wrestler, Hunter Meyers.
Hunter, a senior at Monett High School, is like most teenagers. He likes watching mixed martial arts, helps his father cut firewood and does well in the classroom. When it comes to preparing his body for the rigors of wrestling, he is no slouch. Hunter spends countless hours each week lifting weights, working on staying flexible and working hard during practice to be come a better wrestler.
What makes Hunter Meyers such an inspiration to those around him is that Hunter has cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain. In Hunter's case his brain struggles to control his legs and some of his fine motor skills.
"Sometimes it takes Hunter a while to get his legs working in the morning." said Beth Meyers, Hunter's mother. "Something as simple as walking is an everyday challenge for Hunter."
Hunter weighed 2 pounds 15 ounces at birth and was three years old before his could walk. "As a child, his physical therapist told us to make him pick himself up when he fell," said Beth. "It was hard, we would be at the store and he would fall. People would give me these appalling looks when I would tell Hunter to get up."
Hunter didn't play any sports as a child.
"We weren't sure what Hunter could play," said Beth. "We were afraid that he would hurt himself."
The Meyers have never treated their son like he was different than everyone else.
"He strives to be a normal teenage boy," said Kevin Meyers, Hunter's father. "Hunter meets every challenge each day head-on, He won't take no for an answer and refuses to let his handicap be a crutch.
"Growing up I wasn't a big baseball or football fan," said Hunter. "My dad and I liked watching mixed martial arts. I liked it because of the one-on-one nature and the competiveness of the sport."
Wanting to play
Hunter decided that he wanted to go out for the wrestling team his sophomore year, an idea that was unpopular with his parents.
"I wasn't happy with the decision," said Kevin. "Beth and I were both worried about him getting hurt."
"Hunter is a persistent and determined young man," added Beth. "He constantly wanted me to take him to the gym to workout."
Hunter told his parents he should at least have the opportunity to compete and give wrestling a try.
"I am a very religious individual," said Hunter. "I was blessed and by God's will am able wrestle. My parents finally said that if my doctors would clear me to play, I could tryout for the team."
"I first met Hunter when he was in seventh grade," said Monett Wrestling Coach Daryl Bradley. "When he came out for the team his sophomore season, he was full of confidence. I believe that wrestling is a sport for everyone and Hunter worked very hard."
Wrestling is a very demanding sport. Athletes must be physically tough to withstand the physical nature of the contest. Mentally, they have to understand angles and leverage. Nutritionally, wrestlers must be dedicated to their diet to maintain their weight.
"It's an extremely difficult sport," said Bradley. "A lot of kids quit because of the workout routine. Hunter trains just the same as every other athlete and made the team. He is an inspiration to his fellow teammates."
Hunter's first season wrestling wasn't without a big scare.
"I slipped a disk in my lower back," said Hunter. "I was scared that I wouldn't be allowed to wrestle again. It took me nearly 18 months to fully recover from that injury. I knew I would have to work harder if I wanted to wrestle again."
"Hunter has put so much work, effort and energy into getting back into shape that we felt it would be a bigger letdown not to let him compete again," said Beth.
"My son can be hardheaded and won't take 'no' for an answer. We had to let him try again," added Kevin.
After taking his junior season off to recuperate, Hunter found himself once again getting cleared to wrestle.
"I made my mind up that I was going to wrestle again," said Hunter. "I worked hard in the off season to get in shape, I'd stay late after practice and I work on my moves at home."
Earlier this season Hunter competed against Branson, and although he was defeated in his match Hunter received a standing ovation from the crowd.
"Hunter is an amazing young man," said Bradley. "He has grown stronger over the last year and is a very strong and determined competitor."
"I can't begin to explain how much he has overcome to get where he is today," added Kevin. "He gets to do what the other kids do and he always goes the extra mile to make sure he is pulling his own weight on the team."
Hunter has sage advice for people who struggle with everyday problems.
"Don't quit, keep your head held high," said Hunter. "If you can put your mind into it, you can achieve it."