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PREP WRESTLING: North's Parrott atones for last season (02/21)

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By Josh Claywell

Philosopher George Santayana once said those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Darrius Parrott doesn’t fall into that category.

The 195-pound North Hardin senior remembers the past very well because it’s something he doesn’t want to repeat.

Instead, Parrott wants to learn from his past mistakes, including one that cost him a big chunk of his junior season.

Parrott entered last season with hopes of winning a state championship and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the state at 195 pounds. But those dreams were dashed when Coach Joe Burroughs suspended Parrott for a violation of team policy.

“It was just bad decision after bad decision that I can’t really explain or put out there,” Parrott said. “I didn’t know I was going to get in trouble about it because I thought I was being sneaky about it. I thought I wouldn’t get caught.”

But that’s exactly what happened, and Burroughs suspended Parrott and another teammate in late January.

Burroughs called it one of his toughest decisions. Parrott had actually been cleared to return to action by the school, but Burroughs instead opted to keep him from wrestling, saying it was the right move.

“I was one of the ones who pushed to make things happen, because I wanted to know what was going on and I didn’t want him to get by with what he was doing,” Burroughs said. “He would’ve been perfectly cleared to wrestle if I let him, but I wouldn’t. I knew what the right thing was and I was going to do what was fair. If I hadn’t have done that, I know he wouldn’t be in the place he is today.

“I’m going to do right by these kids,” he added. “I love him as much as my own son. And if it were my son, he would’ve gotten the same punishment.”

Parrott, understandably, was upset to see his season come to an end. After all, what wrestler doesn’t want to win a state title?

But, looking back, Parrott said he only had himself to blame. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but he chose to do it – not anyone else.

“I was disappointed in myself for even thinking I would be allowed to wrestle,” Parrott said. “Everything went through my mind, from what my friends would think of me to what my parents would think about me – what anyone would think of me.”

The worst feeling, Parrott said, was that he had let down everyone who’s supported him throughout his career.

“I just failed everybody,” he said. “I was mad at myself that I would do that. I’m not the kind of kid to get in trouble like that. It was a very disappointing time. I let myself down and I let my team down. It was just a bad feeling to let so many people down.”

But now comes a chance for redemption.

Burroughs and Parrott smoothed things over during summer break. Burroughs even took Parrott to get a logo tattoo of No-Ox – a Hardin County-based club team – on his back as a reminder to always do the right thing.

And so far, Burroughs says Parrott has done the right thing for the Trojans.

“We bumped heads a few times over the summer, but he’s family,” Burroughs said. “I know that great things are going to come in his life. I think we were put together for a reason and I have to keep him straight so he can be a great leader in whatever he decides to do. He just made a few bad decisions and they caught up with him. I’m glad they caught up with him when they did and not later in life.”

And so is Parrott, who believes the ultimate redemption is winning State. North Hardin’s last state champion was Aaron House (285 pounds) in 2011.

Parrott is 31-0 and ranked first in his class entering his first-round match today against Ohio County senior Bradley Easterling (16-5) at Alltech Arena in Lexington.

“I’m more anxious than anything to get on the mat and prove to everyone that I can win a state title and that I’ve worked hard all year for this,” Parrott said. “It wouldn’t matter where I was in the bracket. I’m still going to wrestle everyone the same, with my head on right and with the right intentions.”

Going undefeated comes with intense pressure, but Parrott says it’s nothing he can’t handle – especially after what he went through last season.

Parrott has completely turned things around, from who he hangs out with to how he works in the classroom. Burroughs said Parrott’s transformation has been remarkable.

“Everyone was on him hard after it happened,” Burroughs said. “He had a lot of people put a lot of pressure on him because everyone expects more out of him. He needed to surround himself with better people and he’s done that, and it’s shown in everything he does.”

Parrott says he’s still working on redeeming himself with Burroughs and his teammates.

What better place to do so than at State?

“I hope he wins the state championship,” Burroughs said. “It would just seal the deal that when you do the right thing, good things will happen.”

Josh Claywell can be reached at 270-505-1752 or jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com.