8-year-old wrestler won't let muscular dystrophy slow him down

PLYMOUTH — Zacharhyia Masterson, 8, of Plymouth won a wrestling match at a national competition this year, although he was in so much pain he had to be carried to the mat.
Zach was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy when he was 13 months old, according to his mother Chasity Masterson. But since he turned 4, he’s been wrestling and participating in other sports like bowling, football, and baseball — despite what Masterson describes as “constant muscle pain.”
“(The pain) doesn’t stop him from doing anything,” said Masterson. “He is definitely a fighter. He will be the first to tell you that if you are a champion, you don’t give up. And he won that match. He cried afterwards, but he won.”
Zach struggles with confidence, said his mother. Although he placed 6th out of 30 other children in his age and weight division at a national level this year, Zach won’t feel like a winner until he gets to first place.
“People were congratulating him, but he was saying, ‘Why are you congratulating me? I didn’t win,’” said Masterson.
Zach wrestles with One on One Wrestling Club in Knox, an intramural wrestling group, and continues to push himself to achieve more. He encourages his 4-year-old brother Zainder, who also has muscular dystrophy, to not let the disease stop him from doing anything he wants to do. The brothers wear braces on their legs when they aren’t playing sports, and Zach takes a drug for muscle pain.
“Zach won’t admit when he is hurting, but you can tell by his behavior and mood,” said Masterson. “He doesn’t want to give up (wrestling) although he is starting to lose muscle in his arms this year. I think he will find a way to stay competitive, though, because of his personality. He is one of his hardest critics.”
In a way, Zach’s desire to be active in sports is helpful, said Masterson. Since he moves so much during sports, the second-grader is not required to go through physical therapy.
“Physical therapy for him would be boring and he would want to give up,” pointed out Masterson. “I let him make the decision (whether or not to participate in sports). I let him do whatever sport he wants to right now, while he can.”
As long as Zach is moving his muscles and using them, they don’t tighten up, added Masterson.
This year, Zach will be training with an Indiana State Wrestling Association official, who volunteered to help Zach since he is experienced in training other disabled children. Zach also works to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) by participating in fundraising events like the MDA walk and telethons.