Jacob Fereday has not lost to a Louisiana competitor this season. That fact helps fuel the passion the Catholic High senior has for this weekend’s City Wrestling Championship.
“We compete in a lot of meets with teams from all over the state and other states,” Fereday said. “The City meet is special because I think all of us — the schools and the wrestlers — take pride in it.
“We are competitive with each other, but I think there is also a brotherhood. We are all from this one area and believe we’re pretty good at what we do. Of course, it is one of the last meets before state.”
The two-day City meet begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Catholic. Action resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with finals set for about 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The host Bears seek their fourth City title in a row with a youthful lineup that is anchored by Fereday, who is 43-3 at 170 pounds. The meet is a key tuneup before the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA wrestling tournament set for Feb. 16-17 in Bossier City.
It is the fourth City meet for Fereday, who competed at 145 pounds as a freshman, 160 as a sophomore and at 170 the past two years. After finishing as a Division I runner-up for two straight seasons, Fereday opted to change his physical and mental approach.
“The last two years didn’t end the way I wanted them to,” Fereday said. “Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to focus not so much wins and losses, but on getting all I can out of every match.”
A change in routine didn’t hurt, either. Fereday went to a two-week camp that required him to match skills with a wrestler from another state who excelled at using his hands. In turn, Fereday improved his hand-fighting techniques. He also competed in a national tournament in Iowa.
“Wrestling on that level is so much faster than high school,” Fereday said. “It is more like what you see on the college level. I had to adjust. My training was different. I watched my diet and my weight.”
Fereday’s only losses are to two Alabama competitors and one from Texas. He also became the Bears’ all-time wins leader and enters the City tourney with 182 career victories. Fereday plans a college major in political science and is pondering out-of-state colleges that offer wrestling.
“When Jacob came back this fall, you could definitely see a difference,” Catholic coach Tommy Prochaska said. “The way he watched his weight and did other things, you could see how he matured. He is a guy who leads mostly by example. He does it, and the others watch.”
Though Catholic is expected to get a challenge at this City meet from the likes of East Ascension, St. Amant, Live Oak and Zachary, Fereday remains confident.
“We have younger guys in our lineup,” Fereday said, "but I like the way we wrestled in the Division I duals and when we faced Zachary. I think we’re where we need to be.”