Local wrestler wins Gold at Maccabiah Games

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Other News

Another local winner! Twenty-one-year-old Riley Parker of Virginia Beach medaled at the 2022 Maccabiah Games held this summer in Israel: a Gold win at the Freestyle Open, and Silver at the Greco Roman Open.

Parker, who is entering his senior year at Washington and Lee University, has been interested in wrestling since elementary school. His father wrestled through college. “That’s been a major inspiration of mine to stick with the sport,” he says. Thus far in his sports career, he’s been a two-time VHSL state champion at First Colonial High School and he earned his Academic All-American status in all three of his first seasons, in addition to garnering NCAA All-American status in 2022 with a sixth-place finish at the nationals. “The goal this year is to capture an NCAA title,” he adds.

The Maccabi Games were unlike anything he’d ever experienced. “While I was exploring my Jewish roots and making my first trip to Israel, I was simultaneously representing my home country for the first time as an athlete. Not only was I experiencing powerful emotions because of this, but I was also bonding with hundreds of new people from all over my country and the world.”

The U.S. wrestling team certainly had the bona fides to make a win happen, with, according to Parker, multiple current and past Division I athletes and a couple of All-Americans. “Across the board, the USA cleaned house, especially in freestyle wrestling.”

Parker will graduate from W&L in the spring of 2023, but he still has another year of NCAA eligibility. “I plan to use that year to continue competing while I work toward earning a master’s degree.”

Will he compete at the Maccabiah Games in another four years? “I’ll have to reassess it in a few years. I probably won’t, so that someone else will have a chance to have the experience, but I am not going to rule anything out yet. And I just want to say thank you again to everyone who donated to my fundraising campaign. This experience would not have been possible without you.”

Debbie Burke