The first time Reinhardt University assembles a wrestling team, it will have two Gilmer High School Bobcats in its midst.
After Keegan Sharpe signed two weeks ago, Jake Parker signed on the dotted line to throw on an Eagles singlet yesterday.
“It’s really exciting, going into a first-year program,” Parker said. “Someone came in and gave the money to the university and said, ‘Start a wrestling program.’ So they went out and got a Division I coach, Jeff Bedard. He’s an all-around great guy and demands the best from his athletes.”
Parker also played football and baseball for the Bobcats, leaving the diamond his sophomore year but sticking with football as an tight end, fullback and noseguard for GHS through his senior campaign. He started wrestling in eighth grade, under the guidance of Clear Creek Middle School coach Walt Monroe. He picked wrestling as his post-high school pursuit, for a unique reason.
“I played tight end (and I’m) about three inches too short and 3/10 of a second too slow,” Parker chuckled. “Coach Monroe and Coach (Doug) Haynes really helped me prosper over the years. They did a Freestyle and Greco-Roman camp during the summer, which really helped me.”
Brewton-Parker and New Mexico Highlands also offered Parker wrestling scholarships, but he stuck with Reinhardt because of his excitement for the upstart program they are offering.
“The things I’ll be able to do there mean a lot, plus I’ll be close to my family,” Parker admitted.
A long list of people are on Parker’s mind, in regards to those that helped him reach the pinnacle of signing a college wrestling scholarship.
“Matthew Waddell and Levi Seabolt, for beating me to death in practice. It definitely made me better over the years.” Parker laughed. “Of course, my family. John Croft, my grandfather. My mother, Christy Croft. My aunt and uncle, Brenda and Dwight Newton. My coaches, the Sniders (Josh and Sam), Coach (Casey)Wingard, Coach (Greg) Wingo, Coach Monroe and Coach Haynes, for all they’ve done for me.”
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