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Petaluman Jack Faris is first Casa Grande High School NCS wrestling champion

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Casa Grande High School’s Jack Faris had two goals going into his senior wrestling season. He accomplished both and in the process made Casa Grande school history.

Faris started his season intent on reaching the state tournament and defeating De La Salle’s Ben Roe. After winning the Vine Valley Athletic League championship in the heavyweight class, he fought his way into the finals in the North Coast Section Tournament, having already secured a trip to the state tournament.

He came face-to-face with Roe for the NCS title and prevailed with a 10-5 decision. “It was the best match I have ever wrestled,” he recalled. “My mindset was the best it could have been.”

His North Coast Section championship was the first ever won by a Casa Grande wrestler.

He now plans to continue wrestling at Santa Rosa Junior College and move on to either Chico State University or the University of Oregon.

Success didn’t just happen for Faris, who put the effort in both during the summer and throughout the season to reach his own goals and help Casa Grande win the VVAL wrestling championship.

He worked hard during the summer, strengthening and conditioning for both wrestling and football and attending a wrestling camp. He often worked out or practiced four times a day, six days a week.

“It was a lot of work,” he acknowledged. “If you don’t love it (wrestling), it (success) is not going to happen.”

He noted that, particularly in the heavyweight division, strength is the most important factor, but added that skill and mental preparedness are also important.

“Learning two or three key moves and defense are important, but strength is the most important.”

Practicing during the season was a challenge because there was no one on the Gaucho team who could match the 270-pound Faris for size and strength. He remembers a coach admonishing him as he was about to practice with a smaller teammate: “Don’t break him.”

He was helped by a friend from Santa Rosa Junior College who volunteered to wrestle with him in practice.

An All-League football player, Faris also has college potential as an outstanding lineman, but prefers being on the mat.

“I’m a wrestler first,” he said simply. “I had fun playing football, but I don’t love it as much as wrestling. In football you depend on other players and they depend on you. Wrestling is 100 percent up to you.”

He has always been active in sports competing in track and field as a freshman and on the swim team in his junior year in addition to his football and wrestling. Now he is just trying to stay in shape with weight training during a time of forced inactivity caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He acknowledges it will be a while before he can get back on a mat. There is just no way to manage 6 feet of separation during a wrestling match.

Faris is the son of Craig and Jackie Faris. His older sister, Holly, attends Santa Rosa Junior College.

His parents are split on his wrestling.

Faris said his father, a high school wrestler himself until an injury ended his hopes, is his biggest fan.

His mother, by contrast, worries about both him and his opponents. “She is such a loving person, she doesn’t want to see anyone hurt,” he explained.

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