For two-plus years in the Northwest wrestling program, junior Kyle Jackson silently put in the work and patiently waited his turn.
On Thursday night with first place in City League duals on the line, Jackson’s opportunity arrived and he was prepared for it.
Northwest didn’t secure its victory over its top challenger, Kapaun Mount Carmel, until the heavyweight result, but Jackson’s 5-4 decision over Ethon Harp in the 195-pound match was truly the difference in the Grizzlies’ 36-30 win at home.
Northwest and Kapaun also defeated Southeast on the night, as the Grizzlies improved to 7-0 in duals and Kapaun fell to 5-2.
“We should have beat them, plain and simple,” Kapaun coach Tim Dryden said. “We lost the 195 and that’s their junior varsity kid that beat us.”
His past was the furthest thing from Jackson’s mind when he sprang from the mat to celebrate the momentum swing that essentially gave Northwest a 33-30 lead since Kapaun was open at 220.
“You work all those years to basically have that feeling and it definitely felt good,” Jackson said of his thrilling varsity debut. “It comes down to who has more heart. You have to be a good wrestler, but if you don’t have the heart for it, you’re not going to pull out the win.”
Kapaun scored enough points in the lower weights, including Andrew Egan’s 12-10 decision in overtime over Northwest’s Justin Onwugbufor at 106, to set up its run in the upper classes. The Crusaders won 160, 170 and 182 and thought the 190 class was theirs as well since Northwest was missing its varsity wrestler.
Jackson’s win sent Northwest’s team and crowd into a frenzy.
“Oh man, I get fired up just thinking about it again,” Northwest’s Joey Alberts, who won his 120-pound match. “I was so excited. I was just freaking out. It was crazy.”
And that was before the Grizzlies even had the match locked up.
That part didn’t come until Northwest’s John Gilbertson, another junior varsity wrestler until this season, outlasted Kapaun’s Sam Lather in two overtimes, winning a 3-2 decision from a penalty point in the second overtime.
It was Gilbertson’s second win of the season in the last match to secure a win for Northwest, this one putting it in complete control of repeating its City League title.
“It’s just great for the team and to have them all excited for me,” Gilbertson said. “They’re there for me and I’m there for them and it’s just a great feeling to come through like that.”
106—Egan, KMC, def. Onwugbufor, 12-10 OT; 113—Lindlar, NW, def. Howell, inj. def.; 120—Alberts, NW, pinned Le, 1:22; 126—Mills, KMC, pinned Guerrero, 1:11; 132—Burrus, KMC, def. Beckner, 13-4; 138—Brazell, NW, pinned, Clark, 1:35; 145—Brown, NW, def. Wilson, 12-5; 152—Ortiz, NW, def. Le, 9-2; 160—Nece, KMC, pinned Watson, 3:29; 170—Hand, pinned Guadarrama, 5:05; 182—Heiland, KMC, def. Robinson, 22-7, maj. dec.; 195—Jackson, NW, def. Harp, 5-4; 220—Bell, NW, by forfeit; 285—Gilbertson, NW, def. Lather, 4-2 2OT.
Kapaun 68, Southeast 12
106—Egan, KMC, by forfeit; 113—Howell, KMC, by forfeit; 120—Le, KMC, by forfeit; 126—Mills, KMC, pinned Hurley, 1:25; 132—Burrus, KMC, pinned Love, 3:17; 138—Clark, KMC, by forfeit; 145—L. Wilson, def. Armstrong, 6-2; 152—Nece, KMC, by forfeit; 160—Wescott, KMC, by forfeit; 170—Hand, KMC, pinned Ross, 3:47; 182—Soell, SE, pinned O’Dotle, 1:20; 195—Harp, KMC, def. Shay, 15-0, maj. dec.; 220—Sattler, KMC, by forfeit; 285—Ford, SE, pinned Sullentrop, 5:59.
Northwest 76, Southeast 6
106—Onwugbufor, NW, by forfeit; 113—Lindlar, NW, by forfeit; 120—Alberts, NW, by forfeit; 126—Guerrero, NW, pinned Hurley, 2:29; 132—Beckner def. Love, 17-2, maj. dec.; 138—Brazell, NW, by forfeit; 145—Brown, NW, pinned Armstrong, 3:12; 152—Ortiz, NW, by forfeit; 160—Watson, NW, by forfeit; 170—Guadarrama, NW, pinned, Ross, 5:00; 182—Soell, SE, pinned Robinson, 3:44; 195—Jackson, NW, pinned Shay, 1:55; 220—Bell, NW, by forfeit; 285—Gilbertson, NW, pinned Ford, 3:17.