Parker Decker doesn’t yet have a driver’s license, but he’s lucky he has a valid passport, which is being put to good use this summer.
The sophomore-to-be at Keller has already traveled this summer to Estonia and is preparing to compete at the Pan-American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina next month.
Decker earned the selection in the Cadet (ages 14-16) division of Greco-Roman wrestling after finishing second at a qualifying tournament, the United World Wrestling Cadet Nationals in Akron, Ohio a few weeks ago.
The Pan-Am Games are set for July 3-10 and will feature teams from 29 countries.
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My family went to a Memorial Day party before the Akron tournament. I was dying.
- Parker Decker, on the hardship of a wrestler’s strict diet
Decker has been wrestling Greco-Roman and Freestyle for just about four years.
Along with his twin brother, Preston, the Deckers recently finished their freshman year at Keller and finished third and fourth places respectively at the UIL state tournament.
In Tallinn, Estonia, Decker took first place in both Greco and Freestyle. Brother Preston, at 50 kg, placed second in Freestyle and seventh in Greco.
Greco-Roman wrestling is an Olympic style and is different than other forms mostly due to the restriction of not being allowed to attack the legs. This puts more emphasis on throws and lifts than the Freestyle or Folk (collegiate and high school) styles.
Because of that difference, Greco fits Decker’s preferences.
“I’m not as good at defending my legs if someone gets in on them,” Decker said. “I feel more comfortable with Greco.”
Decker has been competing in the varsity offseason with Mile High Wrestling, a club team which practices at Timber Creek High School under coach Dave Lehman.
Wrestling at 46 kg, or just over 101 pounds, Decker said the summer season can be especially bothersome.
While friends and family are enjoying cookouts and get-togethers, he constantly needs to manage his weight. During the varsity season, Decker competes at 103 pounds.
“The summer is more difficult,” he said, “because everyone else is hanging out with friends and enjoying the summer. My family went to a Memorial Day party before the Akron tournament. I was dying,” he said of having to show restraint in maintaining his diet.
But the experience against national and international competition has been worth it, Decker said.
“I pick up something every time I step on the mat. I learn something new. The more I wrestle, the better I get,” Decker said.
The opportunity in Estonia was a start for the Decker brothers to begin getting a taste of international competition and further increase their mat experiences.
After Buenos Aires, the summer won’t slow down, either.
Two days after returning from Argentina, the Deckers will leave for Fargo, North Dakota and the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet/Junior National Championships. The tournament is one of the largest and most prestigious Greco and Freestyle tournaments in the country. They will both compete in each style of competition.
Representing the U.S., though, is something special and Decker said he’s looking forward to at the Pan-Am Games.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve never been to South America. I know a little bit of Spanish, but this will put my knowledge to the test,” he joked.
To assist in travel expenses to Argentina, there has been a Go Fund Me account set up for Decker, under “Parker Decker Pan American Games.”