FARGO, N.D. — Anyone can wrestle freestyle, it takes a special animal to wrestle Greco-Roman.
Farouq Muhammed is that beast.
The Elyria senior entered the two-day U.S. Marine Corps Greco Nationals and came within one match of earning All-American status Friday.
While freestyle and folkstyle have a lot of similarities, Greco is all upper body, leverage and throws.
“Greco is just a lot more fun to me,” Muhammed said. “It kind of reminds me of when I first started wrestling. It was just having fun. I just keep on winning and trying (to get better). The opportunity is just amazing compared to what you get out of folkstyle and freestyle.”
Muhammed took advantage of the opportunity with wins over Illinois Jeff Nugent and Jared Head, California’s Louis Rojas, Oregon two-time state champ Ian Carlos and Arizona United World Wrestling All-American Alejandro Torras.
Unfortunately for Muhammed, a second-round loss to Utah state placer Riley Noble put him on the bottom half of the bracket before California’s Ankhaa Enkhmandakh knocked him out in the round to place.
Muhammed is rarely outmuscled against his opponents, but Enkhmandakh scored a takedown early and then turned the tables on the Pioneer, hitting two four-point moves to end things in 53 seconds.
“I really wanted to place in this tournament, but not getting what I wanted just drives me a little bit harder,” Muhammed said. “Any big tournament like this you always get better. Seeing so many different styles, you working so many matches and getting mat toughness.”
That’s impossible to ignore as two five-point moves Thursday and two huge four-point moves Friday proved Muhammed is ready to launch when the folkstyle season begins.
Muhammed, who finished fourth last season at state and sixth in 2016, has wrestled in three tournaments in Fargo, N.D., and is ready to take what he learned at the FargoDome and add it to his high school wrestling repertoire.
“Greco is harder in a lot of ways,” Muhammed said. “Mat awareness and mat management is just so important, knowing where you are and being able to maintain and handle the situation you’re in, plus that hand fighting gives you every bit of the advantage against your opponent.
“You really have to fight and keep your head in it. If you’re not in it mentally, you’re not going to be good. It’s a lot of mental toughness. You really have to be able to push through.”
Utah’s Sage Mortimer became the first female to earn All-American status in Greco. Mortimer, who won the women’s cadet freestyle and was second in junior freestyle, finished seventh.
Mortimer finished fourth in the state tournament last winter.
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.