STRASBURG – Javian Moore has a favorite verse from the Bible, Isaiah 54:17, which begins with the phrase “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” Perhaps no combination of words better exemplifies the Strasburg High School senior’s wrestling career.
Moore’s time on the mat at Strasburg has been a lesson in overcoming adversity. As an eighth grader he tried wrestling for the first time, went 0-18 that year and didn’t think he’d ever want to try the sport again. He did return the following winter, and by his sophomore season he’d worked his way into a full-time starting role with the Rams before a life-changing medical diagnosis again altered his path.
During his sophomore season two years ago, Moore suffered a series of injuries that set the course for his diagnosis as a type 1 diabetic in March 2016. It began with a thumb injury that required a slew of medications, he said on Wednesday afternoon, and later that season he suffered yet another injury in which he said the muscle in his left hip became completely detached from the bone, an ailment that required him to take the corticosteroid drug Prednisone.
All of those medications, he recalled, “attacked my body at one time,” leading to a severe spike in his blood sugar levels and, eventually, type 1 diabetes.
“At first it broke me,” Moore, Strasburg’s starting 182-pounder, said of the moment he learned of his diagnosis. “But then once I kind of learned to start dealing with it and just realizing what’s happening right now, like that’s real life, I just got over it. I was just not sad anymore. It’s kind of actually helped me in wrestling because sometimes I’ll go out there and I’ll be really aggressive because I’ll be thinking about why I have this disease.”
Moore, who is set to make his second straight appearance at the Virginia High School League Class 2 state tournament today, has learned to compete – rather successfully, at that – around his health issues. But the road to back-to-back state tournament appearances over the last two seasons required a lot of work and an adjustment on Moore’s part.
At the time of his diagnosis in 2016, Moore said, he developed diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening blood chemical imbalance during which the body breaks down fat for energy instead of glucose. Moore, who wrestled at 152 pounds as a sophomore, rapidly lost over 20 pounds, he said, and yet giving up wrestling wasn’t something he was ready to consider.
“Me and my mom (Jennifer Moore), we talk about wrestling all the time. Even when we were at the hospital we were talking about it,” Moore said, “talking about which weight class I was gonna be in next season.”
Moore would eventually be Strasburg’s starting 160-pounder last school year, meaning he had to regain 30 pounds over a seven-month span in order to be ready for the start of the season. He did, and as a junior Moore went 34-20 and made his first state tournament appearance.
This season he’s 34-7, earned a Bull Run District title at 182 pounds and was last weekend’s Region 2B runner-up.
The physical toll of wrestling with type 1 diabetes hasn’t been overwhelming, Moore said, though he occasionally battles headaches, fatigue and inability to focus depending on his blood sugar levels. He carries a bag filled with all the medical necessities, such as blood sugar meters and insulin, to each competition, and he said he can generally tell what type of day he’ll have on the mat based on his blood sugar readings that day.
Moore’s family has also made his dietary change a breeze, he added, as his mother, brother and stepfather all adjusted their own eating habits so he wouldn’t feel singled out. And he still lifts weights – a lot, as his chiseled frame attests – whether it’s at the school with Strasburg assistant coach Frank Cooper or at the Tight’n Up Gym in town.
“Lifting is one of my passions. I love it,” Moore said. “It helps me, especially like a couple days before a wrestling tournament, just get like a really good lift in. It helps me get to where I need to be mentally.”
Moore is hoping to keep his mind sharp one more time this weekend, when he and five of his Strasburg teammates – freshman Jaylon Burks (126), sophomores Peyton Stickles (120 pounds), Alec Campbell (145) and Chase Hart (170) and junior Austin Stickles (106) – begin the Class 2 state tournament at Salem Civic Center this morning. Moore, who was battling the flu at this time last season and went 0-2 at the state championships, said he wants to avoid making “newbie mistakes” this weekend and be the “smartest wrestler I can be for two days.”
Though “irritated” by his 5-0 loss to Buffalo Gap’s Ryan Benitez in the regional championship bout last weekend, Moore said he’s happy to return to Salem and aim for a spot on the podium to close out his high school wrestling career.
“It feels pretty good, especially because my first two years of wrestling at Strasburg I didn’t really make it (to the state tournament),” Moore said. “Last year making it as my first year, I had an expectation to place – I didn’t really have a good goal but I was just trying to do the best I can. But it feels pretty good to go down there one more time.”