At His Very Best

PHS?wrestler takes pair of golds at Cadet PanAm Championships

Photo provided Parkersburg High rising senior John Martin Best won Greco-Roman and Freestyle gold medals while wrestling for the United States this past weekend at the Cadet Pan-American Championships in Mexico City.

PARKERSBURG–Parkersburg High School wrestling was well represented south of the border over the weekend. John Martin Best competed and thrived in the 2019 Cadet Pan American Championships, as he won gold in Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling events at 71 kilograms.

The games took place in the Mexican city of Morelia, and Best brought his A-game against some of the top grapplers in the world.

His odyssey to the top was realized on Friday in the Greco-Roman final when he soundly defeated his final competitor. Best was hungry for the gold and all that admiration, but during that final match, he admitted he was hungry for something else.

“I was hungry,” Best literally said. “I wish I was joking, but I was wrestling in the Greco finals, and it was in between periods. I think I was winning about 8-3, and my coach asked me, ‘Do you need some water? Do you need some advice?’ I just said I wanted a sandwich. Before I was hungry, my mindset was that I had to keep this match at a controlled pace. I want to throw this man on his head and end this match.”

The ever-expressive Best said the feeling subsided by the time he wrestled in the Freestyle finals on Sunday. He got the better of Argentina’s Lautaro Seghesso in a 10-0 technical romp.

“The Freestyle was actually a very different mindset,” Best remarked.

“He knows I’m going to go for underhooks, so I’m just going to keep the pressure on him and break him mentally. If I find my opening, I’m going to take it. That’s how it went, and I was actually more satisfied winning Freestyle than I was with Greco.”

Of course, Best still has a senior year of grappling at PHS to do. The significance of having a multi-time state champion and nationally-recognized wrestler like Best on the team is not lost on head PHS mat man, Matt Littleton.

“You know, obviously John’s standard of wrestling is very, very high,” Littleton said of the experienced Best. “When you have someone like that in the wrestling room, that translates into having success around him as well.

We have a big group of seniors coming back this year, and I think a lot of them got better by having John Martin in the room. He’s pushing them every day.”

While coach Littleton views Best as a leader who the younger wrestlers can rally behind, Best himself had a different point of view.

“It’s never really dawned on me that I’m a role model. I just think that you put in the focus and you put in the time. To hear that I’m a role model for younger guys is surprising.”

That humble approach doesn’t shock Littleton, as he said Best is always looking at ways to improve at his craft. He believes that is how Best has been able to accomplish so much.

“He’s never complacent with where he’s at in his wrestling career. He always says, ‘I can get better. That guy took me down. I need to fix that.'”

Best also said he aims to get back into the national top ten ranking spots, as he recently fell out of that top ten benchmark. He will have time to prove himself worthy, as he preps for the USMC Cadet and Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D. Additionally among the field in Fargo are Parkersburg South mat technicians in Brayden Roberts and Braxton Amos. The meet takes place from July 12-19 in North Dakota State University’s Fargodome.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com