Juakeem Fuqua is a senior wrestler at Deshler who wrestles in the 145-pound weight class. He has placed at all the meets Deshler has participated in this season, including winning at the Oak Grove and St. Clair meets. Deshler will participate in a meet at Sparkman on Saturday and then compete in the sectional meet at Jacksonville State University the following weekend.
How did you get your start in wrestling?
One of my friends told me about it, told me I should try it. He just said I should come in and see if I liked it, and I did.
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve had to deal with in wrestling?
The competition changes every year. You always have a stud in every weight class. When you get to state, it’s pretty hard. I didn’t think it’d be as hard as it was. Practicing with you and your friends isn’t so hard, but when you get out (to meets) and teams from Georgia and Tennessee come around, the competition gets pretty tough then.
Is there anything you’ve learned in wrestling that has helped you in your other sports (football and track)?
Wrestling has made me a tougher all-around football player. And the conditioning we do, running all the time to stay in shape got me better for track. I benefitted in both of those sports from wrestling.
Deshler recently had its final home match in the dome underneath the famous spotlight, what was that experience like?
It was amazing. It was fun to have a lot of people come out and watch us, and have a spotlight like old times. Having those (former) state champions from Deshler come and watch us made a big deal for the wrestlers. We’re not used to getting so much attention.
Deshler has a great wrestling tradition. How much does that motivate you and the current team?
We have a wall in the mat room, with the names of state champions since way back when. We haven’t had a state champion since 2001. Everybody’s goal on the team is to become a state champiion, to break the streak of not having one in so long.