GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Ask Fleming Island High Class 2A runnerup wrestler Jayce Paridon what he remembered most about his summer trip to India via Finland and Estonia and it’s not very …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Ask Fleming Island High Class 2A runnerup wrestler Jayce Paridon what he remembered most about his summer trip to India via Finland and Estonia and it’s not very pleasant.
“In India, we wrestled in dirt, in what looks like a diaper and against much bigger guys who really did not like us,” said Paridon, a freshman state finalist at Fleming Island High School last year after building an unbeaten 58-0 record to the fateful final. “I think my big takeaway is that nothing in Florida can compare to wrestling with that scenario. It made me a lot tougher.”
Paridon, training in Raleigh, NC, traveled with other American wrestlers from around the United States as part of Wrestling World Tours, a select touring team, with stops in Finland and Estonia.
“As a parent, I felt like Jayce would learn so much on his own on this trip despite the things going on in that part of the world,” said Markus Parison, Jayce’s dad, a U.S. Army retiree. “He visited places I’ve never seen. He came home with some interesting stories.”
Paridon, now at 130 after his runnerup finish at 113 in Florida’s Class 2A ranks, competed in the Tallinn Open better known as the Kristjan Palusalu Youth Wrestling Tournament as part of the EST WrestFest in Estonia, one of the biggest freestyle and Greco tournaments in Europe.
“There were men wrestling boys and it was brutal,” said Paridon, who finished with one win, two losses with matches against Lithuania, Belgium and Latvia. “I’m not much on the freestyle techniques, but I had to learn real quick.”
The final segment of the trip which started in April was a trip to India to wrestle with what would the India national team.
“I don’t think the North Florida Wrestling Academy building can ever be as hot as the dirt outdoors that we competed and trained in in India,” said Paridon. “I had plenty of dirt scrape marks all over my body from the matches. I was taking shots and they would literally smash my face into the dirt and put their knee on my neck.”
P.J. Cobbert, coach at Fleming Island High and also the North Florida Wrestling Academy, said Paridon’s stories coming home showed off a little mental toughness for his young troop.
“It’s good for him to go over to another country and see what it’s like to wrestle a different way,” said Cobbert. “They only stop matches if you shake hands with the other guy to submit. He was in situations out there he will never see in a match over here.”
Paridon did admit that Cobbert’s rugged conditioning regimen was part of his success in India.
“They don’t stop wrestling until someone quits really,” said Paridon. “Coach Cobbert had us battle tested and it was brutal, but I never felt like I had to give up.”
Culturally, Paridon was wide-eyed about the living conditions in India, at first, but appreciative of his American lifestyle.
“It was surprising to see the poverty right in the middle of the street,” said Paridon. “The lady’s were working in super hot conditions every day with little water and food. It brings a little perspective to what we have here at home.”
Paridon hoped that coach Cobbert would resist bringing a truckload of dirt to the NFWA headquarters.
“If he does, I’m ready for it,” said Paridon. “I think I got some street-cred by surviving.”
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