HOUSTON – A 12-year-old Taft Foley III took to the wrestling mat.
He was in the seventh grade at the time and became instantly hooked on the sport with the raising of his arm as the winner of a match.
“My first win is the reason I never stopped wrestling,” Foley III said. “It just got me hooked. I wanted to keep winning and keep working hard so I could continue winning at the sport.”
Keep winning is exactly what the Kinkaid School sophomore has done.
On February 2, Foley III won the 113-pound State Championship defeating Episcopal’s Lane McCool in a 7-2 decision at the Texas Prep State Championships in Dallas.
“I’m really happy to have won state, it’s a pretty big accomplishment for me since I’ve been working for it for so long,” Foley III said. “I’ve been working hard training at club practice and at school. Now that I’m the state champion my journey doesn’t end here because I still have Nationals to look forward to.”
With the win, Foley III has climbed to be the No. 1-ranked 113-pound class wrestler in Texas by Wrestling Texas in the prep circuit. McCool is No. 2.
“When I first started wrestling my goal was just to see how good I could do,” Foley III said. “It was a couple of years ago that my goal shifted from seeing how good I could do to being the best.”
Reaching a goal he has his mind set on is nothing new for Foley III.
In 2017, at the age of 15, Foley III became the first-ever African American Eagle Scout for Troop 483 in Manvel, which has been in existence for more than 70 years.
“It was really hard getting the rank of Eagle Scout, which is why it’s so important to me that I finally achieved that goal,” Foley III, who built 12 park benches for his Eagle Scout project, said.
Last summer, while wrestling at Harvard Universty, Foley III got the chance to meet fellow Eagle Scout and Harvard President Larry Bacow and swapped scouting stories, according to an Instagram post on the official university account.
Wrestling at Harvard, or any Ivy League university, in a few years could be an option for Foley III considering his upward trend on the mat and of course paired with his straight-A performance in the classroom at Kinkaid.
“When I first started I didn’t know any type of sport could be an avenue to your education,” Foley III said. “Now I’ve been wrestling a long time and I’ve learned it can be an avenue.
“I don’t want to depend solely on wrestling as an avenue, I’d like to think my academics are also good enough to get me into college. But I feel like wrestling will be a really good boost to get me into college.”
Foley III still has some time to perfect his wrestling game, including this upcoming weekend at the Southwest Preparatory Conference State Championships.
An area Foley III admits he works the most on his is neutral game, which is when you start the match. Foley III continued saying “if you can dominate your opponent from the very beginning then they’re not going to be able to recover.”
Reaching the No. 1 ranking in his weight class in Texas for prep school stars only came because of hard work, Foley III and he will continue with that same mindset for years to come.
“I only got where I am because of time, hard work and dedication that I put into the sport,” Foley III said. “I feel like I had not gone through all of that I wouldn’t be here.”