From Day 1, Kurt Habeck could see George Farmah’s unique style.
Habeck, the Eastview wrestling coach, had talked Farmah onto the mat after the then-freshman had been cut from the basketball team. Albeit raw, Farmah was strong, athletic, quick and, Habeck said, a natural.
“He has this uncanny strong grip that allows him to just latch on to [opponents] and they can’t do much about it,” Habeck said. “It’s just all strength and athleticism. Everyone could see that at his first practice.”
More than anything, though, Habeck said Farmah simply has a knack for adapting to situations — whether as a 12-year-old moving with his siblings from Liberia to Minnesota, as a novice at his first wrestling practice, or as a first-timer to the state meet last year.
Now a senior, Farmah is among the state’s best wrestlers in the 132-pound weight class. The last six years have been a whirlwind, he said, but he’s handled adversity the same way he approaches every match on the mats.
“I just try to only worry about what [is in front] of me,” he said. “I try not to get caught up in everything else, and just [control] what I can.”
Farmah grew up playing soccer in Liberia, living with extended family as his mother worked in the U.S. to bring her three children stateside.
Farmah said the move, particularly dealing with the cold, was a big adjustment but sports played a large role in his transition. “It helped a lot with making friends and getting to know people,” he said, and it made him more comfortable around his classmates.
He quickly became comfortable on the mat, too.
In his first year, Farmah wrestled mostly with Eastview’s freshmen team. But toward the end of the season, Habeck started putting him in varsity matches.
“He was like a sponge,” Habeck said, “just trying to learn as much as he could, and I think he really started to like it a lot.”
After a strong campaign as a sophomore, Farmah broke out last year, making a late-season run that culminated with reaching the state championship match at the Xcel Energy Center.
He finished second and ended the year 38-7.
Picking up steam
Farmah had offseason shoulder surgery and then suffered a concussion early this winter. He didn’t get into a match until winter break, but has gone 13-3 since and is ranked No. 4 in Class 3A at his weight.
Habeck said Farmah is just now getting back to normal and should be primed for another postseason run. The goal is a state title, something Farmah only sheepishly admits.
“He’s a really humble kid,” Habeck said. “He’s just one of those guys that everyone on the team loves and really gravitates to. He always has a smile on his face, he’s always working hard.
“It’s pretty special as a coach when you get kids like him. And he has to be special to accomplish some of the things he has.
“He just appreciates all the things he has going for him. He has that same attitude as he did on Day 1 when he first got on the mat. He’s just a unique kid, and it’s rewarding as a coach to have him.”