High School Spotlight: Ryan Franco of Clovis North

The California Wrestler got the opportunity to speak to one of the top freshmen not just in the golden state but in the country. A dynamic grappler, Franco is excellent in all three positions on the mat and is always looking for the fall. He was a Fargo double All-American last summer and was third at the Cadet Greco-Roman World Team Trials earlier this year in Akron, Ohio.

TCW – Tell us about your wrestling career – how you got started and when you fell in love with the sport and realized you were good.
Ryan – I got started because I thought it was WWE when I went to my first practice at the age of four; I was disappointed and didn’t like it. I went to my first tournament and won. I love the feeling of winning. My dad would carry me on his shoulders after every win and tell me “watch your big ole head” every time we went under a doorway. I didn’t really lose much, but never really realized I was good until I got older, and everyone around me was winning so it became the norm. Kids on my team were my brother Chris Deloza, Justin Mejia, Isaiah Perez, Noah Cortez, and Giano Petrucelli to name a few.
TCW – This past season you’ve had a lot of success, winning masters and second at the CIF state tournament. Tell us about your mentality coming in and what’s changed.
Ryan – CIF… I thought it was going to be easy. I’ve been to plenty of tournaments and have always been told they would be tough. I think I’ve always expected more from them. My first match at State I thought would be pretty easy. If you had the chance to watch my first match, let’s say it was not what I expected. It was tougher than I thought. I learned that I couldn’t come out to a match and think “cakewalk” You have to wrestle every match like you’re down, and there’s short time on the clock.
TCW – What would you say was the best match you wrestled last season?
Ryan – Last season there were many tough matches, but the one that stands out the most is my match against Tyler Deen. I bumped up a weight and wrestled him during one of our Duals. It was a very close match. The entire time was a wrestling match. There was no feeling of any of us stalling we were both in motion and trying to score the whole time.
TCW – What was going through your mind when you defeated Chase Saldate of Gilroy to advance to the state finals?
Ryan – I previously wrestled him at Midcals and took a loss. I told myself, that won’t be happening again. My mentality was, go out there and rack up the points. I didn’t plan to leave that match to the refs. I wanted to leave no doubt in anyone’s head that I could’ve lost that match… I was going to be in the finals!
TCW – What about a match in your career where you can pinpoint and say your realized something about your game?
Ryan – Fargo! My brother had been to Fargo before and always told me how tough it was. One of the toughest tournaments he’d been to in his career. He placed eighth. It honestly made me a little bit nervous. I went out there, wrestled my first match, and teched him. I thought maybe my first match was easy. The second guy was just like the first match perhaps a coincidence. By my third match, I won by a decent amount and thought I have a good chance of winning this. I was fresh out of eighth grade going up against good upper-grade kids. At that point, I knew I could hang with these guys. I was going to be ready for high school.
TCW – Tell me about the transition of bumping up weight classes.
Ryan – Listen…. I hate cutting weight. My favorite thing to eat at a tournament is ICE CREAM. Regardless, I was going to bump up. It never really crossed my mind to think if I bumped up a weight class it might be harder. I was going to roll with the punches and eat my ice cream while doing it. I was going to focus on my wrestling instead of my weight cutting.
TCW – What’s your style on the mat?
Ryan – Coach Quintana was my coach for most of my wrestling career. He taught me how to be “slick,” calm, and wrestle my match. Thanks to him, I can be great at offense, or defense. Top, bottom or neutral I’m comfortable enough to be able to score in any position.
TCW – What other hobbies keep you busy?
Ryan – I like to play my guitar, wow writing this I realize I need to get out more. If only my mom wouldn’t ground me all the time. LOL
TCW – Tell us about yourself off the mat.
Ryan – I’m a good kid. I would say I ’m funny, social, and I like to think I lowkey started “The Ryan” hair trend. Most of the time I hang out with other wrestlers, but I’m always happy to make new friends.
TCW – Last question – if you could go back to freshman year and talk to yourself and give yourself some pointers on how to become a better wrestler, what would they be?
Ryan – As I said earlier, I’m calm on the mat. If I could go back, the one thing I would change is my sense of urgency. Knowing when I need to pick up the pace and be more aggressive. That would’ve been key in winning some of the matches I lost. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself.