CLEAR LAKE — When Eric Faught burst on to the high school wrestling scene as a freshman, he did so with big expectations. In that first year, he largely met those expectations as he scored a runner-up finish at the state tournament.
But, last year he took a small step backwards in his eyes from where he thought he would be, which was standing atop the podium with a gold medal around his neck. Instead, he settled for third place. It’s something he’s using as a motivator for his final two seasons on the mat as a Lion.
“High school goes fast and it’s been two years,” Faught said. “I had a shot freshman year and fell short, and then last year against good competition again I lost in the semis.
“It always sucks but when it’s that kind of competition you have to realize that they’re also facing the same goal and it’s whoever wants it more and whoever does the best at that time. It makes me more motivated for this year to really come out strong.”
In preparation for this season, Faught took a little sabbatical from the sport. It wasn’t a complete stop as he still did things to stay in shape and make sure rust didn’t collect, but it was more about clearing his mind.
Faught, who’s ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at 126 pounds, said the “reboot” was just what he needed to refocus himself. Now, he’s coming in to this season better than ever.
“Eric is going to another level just because I see his enthusiasm got a little higher,” Clear Lake coach Mike Lester said. “He took a little breather there in the summer, which was good for him I think to step away for a little bit, and then regained his focus here at the beginning of the season. He’s put a little size on him, too, and I think that’s going to help him out.”
Faught has bumped up from 113 pounds to 126. Lester suspects the added muscle will round Faught into an even better wrestler as it should pair perfectly with his technique.
He’ll be tested throughout the season with big names in the weight class aplenty. But, it’s that finish last year that he hopes will guide him toward his goals.
“I set a goal last year after I lost that I want to never lose again during high school and that’s kind of what I’m shooting for — two undefeated years and two state titles, and that would be good for me,” Faught said.
Even with Faught’s potential, Lester is still excited about the Lions’ potential.
The Lions are stocked at every weight with a roster full of guys Lester expects to have a big year, including but not limited to: Braxton Doebel, Aaron Canchola, Kade Hambly, Ben Finn and Rhys Glidden.
“I think they’re all solid,” Lester said of the Lions’ roster. “I think this is going to be a very good dual team for us because up and down the lineup, they’re all good, above average wrestlers and they all work hard.”