by Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Chris Perry’s biggest problem Friday wasn’t the opponents he was facing in the Junior Nationals freestyle competition.
It was figuring out which color singlet to wear.
Perry and opponent Cody Magrum of Ohio both came out wearing red singlets for their match early Friday night at the Fargo Dome. Perry realized he had the wrong color on and quickly went back and changed into blue.
The three-time state high school champion from Oklahoma then rolled to a 5-0, 1-0 win over Magrum at 189 pounds. Magrum is a three-time Ohio state high school champion who will wrestle collegiately at Ohio State University.
“I thought the top of the bracket is the red singlet,” Perry said with a laugh. “I still haven’t figured it out. I was talking to Craig Wilson of Missouri and he said, ‘You’re one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever watched who doesn’t know what singlet to wear.’”
Perry won eight straight matches in this year’s event to reach Saturday morning’s finals. He will meet Ohio’s Brian Roddy in the finals. Roddy was fifth in the 2006 Junior Nationals.
In Friday’s first session, Perry pulled out a tough, three-period win over University of Iowa recruit Grant Gambrall.
Perry placed fourth at Junior Nationals last year after taking fourth in Cadet Nationals in 2006.
“This tournament is a grind – every match you have to be ready to go,” Perry said. “In the past, I’ve relaxed as I’ve come closer to the finals and I’ve underestimated people. I need to stay solid throughout the tournament.”
Perry, younger brother of two-time NCAA champion Mark Perry of Iowa, is the No. 3 ranked overall recruit by InterMat. He will be a senior at Stillwater High School.
Mark Perry is here in Fargo watching his brother compete.
“He’s had a huge impact on my career,” Chris said. “He said winning a national title was the greatest feeling of his life, and I want to experience the same thing.”
With numerous Division I college recruiters on hand here in Fargo, including Iowa coach Tom Brands and Oklahoma State coach John Smith, Perry is being followed closely during his bouts this weekend.
Perry’s uncle is Smith, a two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion who has coached the Cowboys to five NCAA team titles.
“John is a great coach and a great technician,” Perry said. “He’s worked with me on many things.”
Perry has spent time training in the OSU room with Cowboys wrestler Clayton Foster, a member of the U.S. Junior World Team in freestyle.
Perry also is a top football player. He plays running back and safety. He rushed for 1,700 yards as a junior.
“I have a lot of options for college, and I really haven’t narrowed it down at this point,” he said. “I’ve talked to some coaches here and there. I’ve just tried to stay focused on this tournament. My options for college, I’m just keeping them open at this point.”