Charles H. Flowers High School wrestling coach Odist Felder still teases senior Francois Scarboro about last season.
And really, it’s more than a tease. It’s a painful reminder of what could have been when Scarboro stepped on the scale ahead of the Maryland state wrestling tournament and missed weight by 0.2 ounces. Scarboro likely could have sneezed before weighing in and made the cut.
But he didn’t, and it’s providing the perfect motivating factor for throughout this season to show what he can do on the sport’s biggest stage.
As a warmup, he won the 126-pound title at the Winter Blitz tournament, hosted by Flowers, for a third consecutive season as he pinned Paint Branch 126-pounder Ryan Van Meers in 70 seconds on Saturday.
“I was thinking I couldn’t underestimate anybody,” Scarboro said. “I was motivated because I came into the tournament as the second seed. I knew what was on the line.”
He called it a tie for the greatest win of his wrestling career along with upsetting Parkdale’s Fatai Williams for the county championship last season. Williams was ahead, 11-4, before Scraboro stuck him after a reversal at 3:02.
“These are my favorite, the Winter Blitzes,” Scarboro said. “I have a lot of school spirit and I’m just happy that I could do it for my school and my coaches. Without them, I’m nothing.”
Following his win against Van Meers, Scarboro shook hands with Paint Branch’s coaches and then sprinted toward Flowers assistant coach Jamal Jeter. Jeter appeared unprepared for what came next — Scarboro leaping Superman style into his chest. But Jeter reacted quickly enough to catch the excitable Scarboro and celebrate the victory. He then went and hugged Felder, who was watching from the stands while simultaneously running the tournament, and celebrated with friends and family.
“I don’t think he was ready for it,” Scarboro said of Jeter. “I had to trust him. I don’t know where else I could have went from there, I was just so happy.”
Scarboro, who pinned his way through the Blitz, started wrestling three years ago but has been boxing since he was 12-years-old.
“As a boxer, I guess he knows a lot of good transitions and his conditioning was already there, so it was just a matter of the technique when he started wrestling,” Felder said. “And he has pretty good balance as an athlete, so he was able to pick it up and go.”
He’s scheduled to compete in an upcoming Golden Gloves tournament and splits his time evenly between wrestling and boxing. During the week, he’ll attend wrestling practice after school from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then go to the boxing gym from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Where he finds time for homework is anyone’s guess.
“I find time to fit it in somewhere,” Scarboro said with a laugh.
At first, Scarboro said wrestling was difficult but he adjusted quickly. So much so that he was able to win the Winter Blitz as a sophomore to set the stage for what he’s accomplished this time around.
“The year after my first season trying wrestling, it got a little easier and easier. I decided to start working hard at it,” Scarboro said. “The harder I work, the easier it gets.”
Overall, Flowers had four wrestlers in the finals with Scarboro and Chevelle Womack (160) winning their matches and Thomas Eggleston (126) and Terron Paden (195) finishing in second. And while all are hopeful to qualify and perform well for the state finals this season, Scarboro in particular will be sure to watch what he eats in the days leading up to the big event.