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January 13, 2014

Strong pedigree

Methuen freshman Franklin aiming to create own legacy

METHUEN — His time has finally come.

For nearly a decade, members of the wrestling community have heard about Methuen freshman Darius Franklin.

“He might be the best wrestler in the family,” was a common refrain about Franklin.

If true, that would make Franklin one of the best wrestlers the region has ever seen because his older brother, Isaiah Williams, was a two-time undefeated New England champion for Haverhill High. Another brother, Parris, also wrestled for the Hillies.

Franklin began wrestling in the second grade with the Haverhill Youth program and then, after the family moved, switched to the Methuen Youth Program. Throughout is time in elementary and middle school, he’s worked out and trained at The Barn in Danville, N.H.

When healthy, Franklin was nearly unbeatable. As a fifth and seventh grader, he won the sectional, state and New England tournament. Injuries to his wrist and elbow sidelined him as a sixth and eighth grader.

Healthy again, Franklin is currently 18-0 with 13 pins as a 160-pounder and has already won two tournaments. He’s had few close matches. Methuen coach Bill James has been impressed, although he adds that Franklin has some work to do to become an elite wrestler.

“He’s obviously off to a good start,” said James. “He’s got a great mat presence ... he’s aggressive, he’s pretty strong and, when he gets in trouble, he scrambles really well.

“He needs to work on his technique a little more, and his moves in different situations.”

Franklin doesn’t disagree, noting that he works on technique first and then strives to improve his strength, and says that his best attributes are “my speed and agility.”

When he needs advice, in addition to his coaches, Franklin sometimes gets it from older brother Isaiah, who is on an extended break from Missouri Baptist, which he attends with Parris.

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