Jack Parr came into his senior season for St. Paul’s wrestling team with high expectations and goals, and for good reason.
The Westminster native already had two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association titles, and two Maryland Independent Schools state championships, on his resume. Parr also had a title as a sophomore at the National High School Coaches Association tournament, and a third-place showing at the National Prep Wrestling Tournament last season.
Finishing his high school career strong was Parr’s focus. So when a shoulder injury in his first bout of the winter seemed to derail things, the 195-pounder didn’t let it become a major setback.
Parr went down during a dual-meet tournament in New Jersey, in mid-December, and missed most of the next two months. Parr wrestled in a few duals, but his true return came last weekend at the MIAA tournament, where Parr went 4-0 with three pins en route to his third career championship.
The postseason seems to be Parr’s time to shine.
He’s a two-sport athlete at St. Paul’s who doesn’t take a break between football and wrestling. Parr excels in both — he grew up playing football for the Westminster Wildcats, and wrestled for the Manchester and Westminster youth programs — but admits it’s a physical challenge to stay sharp in each season. Parr said football “took a big toll on my body,” which perhaps led to his injury a few weeks after the fall ended.
“When it happened, I knew something was wrong,” Parr said. “But I knew it wasn’t the end. It wasn’t one of those injuries where it was like, ‘Oh, this might be the last time.’ I think the only reason it didn’t take a big mental toll on me is because there was never a week I wasn’t practicing. Even with the shoulder injury, I was getting physical therapy every day, making my shoulder stronger and stronger to the point where I could be wrestling full-time in practice with my coaches and teammates.
“Now I’m now almost back to 100 [percent]. I think I’m coming out of the injury better than I was before my injury.”
His condition seemed just fine at the MIAAs, where Parr faced a familiar foe in the finals — McDonogh senior Jack Wimmer, who Parr trains with and has competed against for a few years. Parr and Wimmer are friends, and they squared off in last year’s National Preps 182 consolation final (Parr won 4-0).
Parr needed overtime last weekend to top Wimmer 6-4 and stay undefeated on the year at 13-0.
“I wish it didn’t go into overtime, but I’m kind of glad it did,” said St. Paul’s coach Rob Eiter. “Because now he knows, it’s a lesson learned. You’ve got to be ready off the whistle. But also, you’ve still got enough in you to win it in overtime.
“If we need to go into overtime to win a match then we know we can do it.”
Eiter said Parr could have brushed off his senior season after sustaining his injury, particularly with a wrestling scholarship to University of Maryland already secured. Eiter, a former college coach and Olympic wrestler, said Parr had plenty on his mind early in the year, but after some time it became obvious there were goals to achieve before high school was complete.
“You talk to these kids at 17 or 18 years old and you’re like, ‘Listen. I’m going to tell you. I guarantee it. Next year you’re going to regret not finishing this year,’” Eiter said. “One day you’re going to wake up and be like, ‘Man, I should have finished my senior year.’ We’re going to do what’s best for him too. I’m not going to throw him out to the wolves. Because he can win with one arm behind his back, for the most part, in most of his matches.
“But that’s not what we’re trying to do for him. We want to win a national title for him.”
Eiter said he has noticed Parr’s confidence building — even though his mat time has been sparse this season, Parr said he never missed a practice and kept his physical therapy routine consistent to gain back his strength.
The wrestling community doesn’t consider Parr as having lost a step.
He’s No. 2 at 195 pounds (and the tops for private school grapplers) in the latest Maryland State Wrestling Association rankings. He’s considered a favorite at this weekend’s MIS tournament at Harford Community College.
Next weekend, he’ll be at Lehigh University to compete for a National Prep title.
He has 128 career wins, and 63 pins. And while Parr wants nothing more than to keep winning and enjoying his senior year, he’s got an eye on his future as well.
“I just want to get down there on campus and just start practicing,” Parr said about Maryland. “They haven’t had the most successful year this year, which is kind of disappointing, but I’m hoping to get down there and just make everyone better including myself. They’re going to make me better.
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“I just want to prove myself at the next level.”