Mason Parris picked up a win against Illinois to improve to 20-3 (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Mason Parris was in eighth grade when Amar Dhesi started his college career at Oregon State.
But that didn't stop Parris from believing he could knock off the top-ranked Dhesi when Parris made his debut as a Michigan starter.
The talented true freshman did exactly that, scoring an impressive and decisive 11-4 win over Dhesi in a Jan. 3 dual meet in Corvallis.
Dhesi placed third at the 2018 NCAA tournament at heavyweight.
"It was so cool to earn a big win in my first match as a starter," Parris said. "It was really exciting to win a match like that. My team was really behind me and the guys were really supportive of what I did."
Parris, now ranked eighth nationally, joined the powerful Wolverines lineup when he came out of his redshirt following a fifth-place finish at the Midlands Championships in late December.
He earned a 9-6 win over then No. 8 Trent Hillger of Wisconsin at the Midlands.
"After I wrestled at Midlands. I had a conversation with Coach (Sean) Bormet about my redshirt getting pulled," Parris said. "He said it was my decision. He told me he thought I was ready. I had a couple of days to decide and I came back and told him I was ready to do it."
Mason Parris compiled a high school career record of 206-1 (Photo/Paul Tincher, IndianaMat.com)
Parris arrived at Michigan with outstanding credentials. He won three Indiana state championships and was ranked No. 1 nationally at 220 pounds. He compiled a 206-1 career record. He was 152-0 his final three prep seasons.
He also was an all-state football player and qualified for the state track meet in the shot put and the high hurdles.
Parris said he was ready for the challenge when he took the mat to battle an accomplished veteran in Dhesi, who competed for Canada in freestyle at the 2018 World Championships.
Parris is an athletic and mobile heavyweight who showed that in knocking off Dhesi. He scored on an early fireman's carry attempt and later patiently finished a single-leg shot to secure a takedown.
"When I wrestled Dhesi, I knew a lot about him," Parris said. "I watched video of a few of his matches before the dual meet. I was pretty confident going into the match. I knew I could beat him. He had no idea who I was and I think I surprised him a little bit."
An honor roll student in high school, Parris was heavily recruited by top college programs before choosing Michigan.
"I love it here," Parris said. "We have great academics and a great wrestling program here. It's been everything I could ask for."
Parris jumps into a loaded heavyweight weight class in the Big Ten Conference that includes another talented true freshman in top-ranked Gable Steveson of Minnesota.
Mason Parris battles Northwestern's Conan Jennings in the Midlands semifinals (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Iowa's Sam Stoll, who placed fifth at NCAAs last year, started the season ranked No. 1. The Big Ten heavyweight class also includes fourth-ranked Anthony Cassar of Penn State and No. 6 Youssif Hemida of Maryland.
"I'm really excited about wrestling all of those top guys," Parris said. "I'm looking forward to matching up with them and see how I can do. I know it will be a good challenge for me."
The influence of former Michigan heavyweight Adam Coon has proved beneficial for Parris as well. Coon placed second at the 2018 NCAA tournament as a senior before capturing a silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2018 World Championships.
"I have trained with Adam and that has helped me a lot," Parris said. "We worked out in the summer and at the beginning of the school year. I learned a lot from matching up against him. He's a huge heavyweight and I'm not going to wrestle anybody bigger than Adam. He is a really good hand fighter and a good thrower. He's a really good dude. He's definitely given me a lot of pointers and has taken me under his wing."
A 220-pounder in high school, Parris is now wrestling bigger opponents as a college heavyweight. He stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 245 pounds.
"It's been an adjustment for me, but it's going well," he said. "I think I'm somewhere around the middle in terms of my size at heavyweight. I've wrestled some guys who have 30 pounds on me. I want to gain a little bit more weight and get stronger."
Mason Parris won the MSU Open by beating CMU's Matt Stencel (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Parris suffered three losses in the first half of the season while competing against collegiate competition for the first time.
"It was a good learning experience for me while I made the transition from high school to college," he said. "All of the guys at this level are pretty good and there aren't any easy matches. I've come a long way since early in the season. I'm a lot better than I was at the beginning of the season."
Parris knew there was a chance his redshirt would be pulled.
"Going into the season, I knew anything was possible," he said. "The plan was to redshirt and see what happens. Some things happen sometimes and the coaches decided to put me in the lineup."
Parris followed his impressive win over Dhesi by recording falls in his next two matches in dual meets against Arizona State and Illinois.
He is part of a fifth-ranked Michigan team that has its own share of lofty goals. Six Wolverines are ranked in the top 10 at their respective weight classes. Michigan finished fourth at the 2018 NCAA tournament.
"Our team is looking really good," Parris said. "It's exciting to be a part of it. We have some really good wrestlers in our lineup who have some high goals."
Sean Bormet is in his first season as Michigan's head wrestling coach (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Parris has benefited from the influence of first-year Michigan head coach Sean Bormet, who had previously served as a top Wolverine assistant.
"Coach Bormet has brought a lot to our team," Parris said. "He's done an awesome job. He's such a good coach. He's taken a lot of time to work with me. He pays a lot of attention to details and helps me work on a lot of little things that have helped me. He helps everyone on the team. He's a really good teacher."
Bormet said he knew at the start of the season that Parris had the potential to make the starting lineup as a true freshman.
"Mason is a tremendous athlete," Bormet said. "He has a lot of strength. He has a good motor. He has all of those key ingredients, especially for an upper weight guy. We used the first semester as an evaluation, looking at his training, how he was managing his academics and how he was doing in competition. He is hungry to compete and he's healthy. We had a conversation and felt like it was the right time to pull him out. He's just a really, really solid kid who has great composure."
Even though he is only a true freshman, Parris isn't backing away from pursuing lofty goals this season.
"I'm definitely going to set my goals as high as possible," he said. "I came to Michigan with a goal of being a Big Ten champion and an NCAA champion. I don't want to sell myself short of getting there. I just need to keep working hard and improve every single day. I'm always looking to get better."