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Q&A: Junior 174-pound John Paris

2011 CAA Rookie of Year returns to lineup after injury cost him entire 2011-12 season

November 4, 2012

Q&A: Junior 174-pound John Paris

John Paris Biography

Contact: John Hartrick (

VESTAL, N.Y.—Junior 174-pound John Paris has battled through several injuries that have put his wrestling career in jeopardy. But the 2011 CAA Rookie of the Year has persevered and starts the season healthy and in a battle for a starting role. Paris answered some questions on the eve of the 2012-13 season.

You suffered an injury in the team’s second dual match of the season last winter ... take us through the injury and your long rehabilitation after? Who helped you the most?

It was definitely a rough way to start the season especially since I was just recovering from a knee surgery that I needed to have due to an injury the previous year in the semifinals of the conference tournament. My family, friends and coaches really helped me through the rehabilitation process and kept me positive. I’m really thankful for all of the support they gave me through the whole thing. However no matter how much support you get a lot of it is a mental aspect that you have to deal with on your own. Being laid up gives you a lot of time to think about things and it can really make or break your future career.

Coming off such an outstanding freshman season ... how frustrating was it to suffer the injury and how did you keep your focus during the months after?

It took me a little while to really get things going my redshirt freshman year but then there was a point where everything started to click and move on all cylinders. Once that happened I felt like I was unstoppable. Then I was injured in the conference tournament before the finals causing me to require surgery. I missed all of summer training and it was taking a while to get back in the swing of things and then in the first match of the season I ended up tearing my ACL. It was a huge blow because I just was feeling good and now I would have to go get surgery again. It was really frustrating and it took a lot mentally to stay focused and to get back on the recovery grind. Every day I would set new goals for myself and as crazy as this sounds I would just talk to myself and just really try to get myself back mentally where I was before. Getting back physically almost seems like the easy part. It’s the mental challenge that follows that is the tough part.

The program obviously went through a transition with Coach Popolizio and a few wrestlers departing in the off-season… along with the graduation of several leading wrestlers ... how has the change been for you and what do you think the team’s strengths are this season?

The transition was a shock to all of us. I knew that Coach Popolizio was going to get offers from bigger schools because of the success that we as a team had here. I have known him for a long time because his brother was my club coach and to see him leave was really tough. I was skeptical at what type of coach we would get to replace him. All I can say now is that I’m really happy with the school’s choice with Coach Dernlan and the other coaches. Things have been going great and I think we are going to do great things this year. We have been focusing a lot on technique and for me it was really good especially coming off an injury. I’m enjoying every minute of the season so far. I think one of the strengths that we have this year is that we have great leadership within the team and we all really get along with each other and the coaches. It almost seems like having a new coach has made us work even harder to prove ourselves. For the guys that have been on the team we already proved ourselves to coach Popolizio but now we have a new coach and have to go through that process again and it’s causing everyone to push each other every day.

Who are your workout partners in the room this year and what have you learned from Nate Schiedel, Cody Reed and some of the older guys and coaches?

Unfortunately we have very few upper weight guys so we all end up rotating and working with each other.  So I work with Caleb (Wallace), Cody (Reed), Nate (Schiedel) and Tyler (Deuel). The good thing about the guys I practice with is that we work really well together and if one of us is doing something that doesn’t feel right we aren’t afraid to say something thinking the other is going to get mad. We all help and learn from each other.

What are your personal goals for this season?

My personal goals this season are to first shake the rust off from being out for so long and secure a starting spot in the lineup. When that happens I’m just ready to make some noise - win conferences, qualify for the national tournament, and become an all American on one of the top programs in the country.

What do you love most about the sport of wrestling?

The thing that I love most about wrestling is probably the fact that it is just you and your opponent out there and it’s all on your shoulders. It gives us as wrestlers a different type of attitude, not only on the mat but in life. It challenges you mentally as not only an athlete but as a person. This I believe will carry on in my life after wrestling. I know that I will be able deal with anything that comes my way because of the type of attitude that the sport of wrestling has provided me with.

What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I don’t really think I have any special talents although some have told me I can sing some country music alright but I think they’re lying! But in my spare time I really love to golf and do other types of combat sports like jujitsu, boxing, and MMA type things back home with team Stryker and Bruno Bjj fighting systems.

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