DES MOINES — Devastated. Crushed. Defeated.
Whatever adjective you want to choose to describe the heartbreak Eric Faught felt Saturday night inside Wells Fargo Arena, any would be applicable.
Faught’s mission all year long had been to win a state title and he wasn’t going to accept anything short of that. But that goal came up one point short as he was handed a 3-2 loss in the Class 2A 126-pound final by Pocahontas Area’s Shea Ruffridge.
“It’s shattering,” Clear Lake coach Mike Lester said. “He was 51-0 coming into this match and he had heartbreak last year and the year before, and he should be in that category with the four-time state champions because he put all the effort into it, he dedicated himself to the sport of wrestling, and then to fall short this year…
“It’s a successful season for him when you look at the record, but for him, he’s not going to see it that way because he didn’t get his ultimate goal.”
Faught fell behind early in Saturday night’s match as Ruffridge landed a takedown with 1:14 left in the first, but Faught was able to get back up for an escape to head into the second down 2-1.
Starting from the down position, Faught got an escape with 1:35 left in the second, and neither could get anything to go for the remainder of the period as they entered the third tied 2-2.
The match’s turning point came 15 seconds into the third when Ruffridge, starting from the bottom, got loose from Faught. Nothing Faught tried for the remainder of the match went and Ruffridge ate up the clock on the way to a one-point victory.
“He’s pretty good on bottom and tough to turn. We knew we’d have to try to turn him for a little bit and then put him on his feet and get the takedown,” Lester said. “Once he got into that position, we counted seven or eight shots that we took and didn’t get a stalling call, which doesn’t help us out and we’re not going to rely on that of course, but we knew it was going to be on our feet in a match like that.”
After the final whistle blew, all Faught could do was stay on his arms and knees with his head into the mat.
He’ll have one final chance to accomplish his mission next year as a senior, and Lester expects to see a kid more driven than ever.
“He’s going to need time because like I said, it shattered him,” the coach said. “It’s what he was working for all year, and to stall out like that with a match, it’s going to take him some time to recoup and reset his goals.
“He lives the sport and he’ll get over it, but it’s just going to take some time because that was a tough one to take.”