They don’t come much more accomplished than Jared Franek, who has been making a mark on the Fargo wrestling scene since he was a seventh-grader in 2013.
In that 2013 season, Franek went to state as an alternate, not for his middle school team, but for West Fargo’s Varsity team. He ended up taking fourth in the 106 lb weight class. In his freshman season, he would win his first of four individual state championships. By the time his high school career closed he was the state’s all-time winningest wrestler with 268 career victories and a one-time Cadet National Champion.
With that type of prep resume, it’s no surprise that collegiate coaches from all over the country came calling. However, Franek wasn’t interested in leaving the community that built him and he committed to North Dakota State.
Since joining the herd, Franek has qualified for the NCAA national championships twice, earned one All-America team honorable mention, two National All-Academic team awards and two All-Big 12 Academic First team awards. And he is only a junior!
You were a Four-time State Champion in high school and a Freestyle National Champion in high school. There had to be a lot of interest from schools outside of the area. Was there ever a temptation to go anywhere other than NDSU?
The whole recruiting process was a lot. It was kind of stressful, especially early on after that national title. There were quite a few coaches that contacted me, but it was really about narrowing it down and figuring out where I fit in.
What about the Fargo area made you want to stick around?
I think just the people and the support I’ve had growing up. I knew I was going to have the same group around that had been with me since I started wrestling. I knew those people would continue to push me. Even in the big states, I don’t think there would be the same support I have here. I’m pretty fortunate with that.
Who is the group that’s behind you?
There are so many people to name. Just local people that I’ve wrestled with and against growing up. They may be done wrestling but they’re still supporting me.
My parents, my girlfriend, my family, my family friends and old coaches. There are so many of them that still come to duels. It’s super special to me.
Did you ever dream about wrestling for NDSU?
Yeah, I grew up coming to duels since elementary and middle school. It wasn’t like this is where I wanted to go from the start, but I remember watching it and enjoying the duels and how the guys wrestled. As I got older, I got to know the guys on the team and would come here in the summer to workout with them and I just grew that bond early on.
A lot of different places around the country, kids get pressured to start specializing in a sport fairly young. How do you think your time playing football in high school helped you to develop as an athlete?
I had people in my life that were supportive of my choice to play football. For some people out there, I think it might be beneficial for them to do one sport but I think for me it wasn’t like that. Football was a little break from the other nine months of wrestling that I did and I really enjoyed it. I had a great group of teammates as well. I still wrestled throughout the football season, but it took my mind off it and ultimately helped me be a better athlete.
How did you find to wrestle during the football season?
I would usually do it on the weekends. During the week I wouldn’t get to too much. There were quite a few kids on our football team that wrestled as well so we would go in on weekends when we had the chance. We wouldn’t really do anything too serious.
What are some of your favorite memories from high school?
I have a lot of memories from high school. Some of my favorites are with the teammates I had. I loved going to tournaments with them and the bus rides.
In my seventh and eighth-grade years we won the team title in the duels and that was super, super special. Both our team and Bismarck High’s team were nationally ranked. That was the highlight of my first few years. Then the next few years, I really just grew closer to the guys and got to enjoy the sport a little bit more. In my senior year, we won the state football championship and that was really special.
What are some of your favorite places in Fargo?
I used to enjoy playing mini golf and racing go-karts with friends. I frolf a little bit and enjoy that. There are so many good restaurants here to go and eat and Fargo just keeps getting more. But, unfortunately, I’m not able to try them too often with wrestling. I also like fishing the river with the guys on the team in the summer when we have time.
How do you think growing up in Wet Fargo shaped you?
It’s definitely shaped how I view things and helped shape my work ethic. I’m a stereotypical hard working North Dakota kid. My dad and my coaches instilled that in me growing up. They taught me to work harder than everyone else and that’s what I try to continue to do today.
I love this state and growing up here. It’s pretty cool going across the state when we have time and showing teammates the western side of the state and things like that.Add a c