FARGO, N.D. — For a split second, Farouq Muhammed forgot the words of two-time world bronze medalist Harry Lester.
While it cost the Elyria senior a match at the U.S. Marine Corps Junior Greco-Roman Nationals, it refocused the 160-pounder and put him into the final day of the toughest tournament in the nation.
Muhammed opened his day with a 15-4 technical fall over Illinois’ Jeff Nugent to set up a match with Utah state placer Riley Noble.
As he’s done many times before, Muhammed opened up a lead and was ahead 8-4 with time winding down. He lost concentration for a moment and it cost him in a 10-8 loss.
Nothing like that happened again for the United World Wrestling National All-American as he cruised to the final round.
“Lester always put it in my mind to pay attention to match management,” Muhammed said. “I just got a little careless because I was winning. It just teaches me something about myself. I have to stay focused.”
That focus shined through in an 11-4 win over California’s Louis Rojas and 11-0 technical fall over two-time Oregon state champ Ian Carlos.
In both matches, Muhammed hit spectacular five-point throws, which are few and far between in the world of Greco-Roman wrestling.
The moves impressed so much that the head referee in his match with Rojas called him back just to congratulate him on the throw.
“Throwing isn’t that big a deal for me,” Muhammed said. “I’m more focused on making sure my stance is correct and making sure I’m in the right position.”
Well, that is, until the crowd let’s out a roar like they did with both of his five-point moves.
“It’s always a little nice, but I really try not to hear the crowd,” he said.
Muhammed knows exactly what’s at stake as he sits two matches away from All-American status and adds to the three top-eight finishes Elyria already has from freestyle in Mick Burnett, Colin Noel and Jordan Crace.
UWW medalist Alejandro Torras of Arizona sits in the way at 10 a.m. Friday morning in a match Muhammed knows he must be ready for from the first whistle.
“I like to say there really are no first seeds in Greco,” Muhammed said. “You can meet someone great in any round. You can do that in any tournament, but you never know who has what.”
“I have to stay real focused. I really need to maintain match management, composure and my stance. It’s not that bad mentally. I’m starting to get into the flow of making it my second nature, but I still slip here and there.”
Wins tend to ease some tension and the two-time state placer is looking to start his senior season off strong for Elyria with what he learned in Fargo, N.D.
Of course, finishing third in the FargoDome wouldn’t hurt either.
“It’s always better to end with a win,” Muhammed said. “Losing leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. I was All-American in Las Vegas and at UWW. It would be nice to All-American in Fargo for once. Hand fighting is one of the most important things in high school and college wrestling. It sets up your defense. It all starts with that.”
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