ELLIOTTSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — West Perry High School wrestler Deven Jackson has never heard of adversity.
At least, he doesn’t act like it.
The junior, coming off a fourth-place finish at the PIAA state wrestling championships in 2020, is a double-amputee. He had both of his legs amputated after battling bacterial meningitis at just eight years old.
After giving up football, the game he loved, he turned his full attention to wrestling.
“That’s one sport I can do, and no one else can take it away from me,” he said.
Deven isn’t letting anybody take anything from him on the mats. Since the start of his sophomore year, he’s compiled an impressive 45-8 record. He’s a perfect 7-0 so far this year and on pace to make a run for West Perry’s all-time wins record of 113. Coming into high school, his personal goal was to reach the 100-win mark.
“Right when I came into high school, I was like, I gotta get at least 30 or 25 wins every year,” he said.
Each one of those wins is more impressive, given what you think would be a natural disadvantage.
“It’s one of those things where it’s a goal and he knows he has to put in twice as much time as anybody else to get to achieve what he wants to,” said West Perry head wrestling coach Craig May.
But May also knows twice as much time won’t be twice as difficult for his star grappler.
“You can’t put boundaries on Deven,” he said. “He doesn’t have a boundary in his mind and, as long as he has that attitude and as long as he’s willing to put in the time and the effort he does, you can’t put boundaries [on him].”
It’s hard to find Deven away from the sport. If he’s not at a match, he’s practicing with his team. When he’s not practicing with his team, he’s at a local club getting as much work in as possible to perfect his craft.
Although he wants to be a state championship-winning wrestler and a college star, he also wants to be a beacon of hope and inspiration for anybody who witnesses his work.
“You can do anything in life — nobody can say no to you,” he said. “If you want to go out there and try out for football, go out and try out for football, or go out there and try out for wrestling.”
Deven had that same vision himself and, through hard work, is watching his successes play out in real time.
“Give it 100 percent and never give up,” he said. “That’s basically my motto — keep going.”