FARGO, N.D. — Jordan Earnest might come back to Wadsworth with a few less parts, but the 285-pound senior will be a much better wrestler.
An Ironman placer, state placer and UWW national champion, Earnest headed out to Fargo, N.D., to compete in the Junior Freestyle Nationals and learned just how tough the tournament can be.
It cost him a piece of his front tooth after Kobe Joaquin accidentally took out a little bit of enamel.
Undaunted, the Grizzly standout won the consolation match and followed it up with a win over Pennsylvania’s Jarrett Walters to remain alive in the consolation bracket today.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” Earnest said. “Everybody deserves to be here. In order to compete here, you have to be able to step it up. I learned that right after my first match. I didn’t expect matches to be so close at the beginning. I wasn’t ready, but I learned I have to go after it at the start of the match.”
The first match for Earnest was tough as he faced Tennessee state champion Samson Evans.
Evans countered everything Earnest threw at him and held on for a razor-thin 6-4 win.
“This is a lot more grueling,” Earnest said. “The kids that come here are the best of the best. They want to be able to get better throughout the year.
“Folkstyle is good and all, but a lot of kids do that. Not every kid is good. Here, it seems like every kid is a national champ or a state champ. They all want to do freestyle. They have their own purpose to be here on top of winning a national title.”
While that national title will elude Earnest this year, he showed some serious want-to in his wins over Joaquin and Walters in his next two matches.
Giving up every bit of 60 pounds to all three competitors, Earnest went to work in the wins.
Joaquin never had a chance in a match that lasted 1:42.
Earnest pitched a shutout, minus the tooth flying, to advance.
Walters gave him a match in the next round for a while, but Earnest wore down the state placer out of Danville.
It ended with a pin in 4:22 and gave Earnest confidence to keep going.
“I can use this a ton,” Earnest said. “I go into a match not thinking about who I have to wrestle because I don’t like to psyche myself out. What I use after winning against guys like that, is that I beat a state placer and I deserve to be here.”
Earnest hopes to keep bringing it at 10 a.m. today when the second day of the three-day tournament continues. His hope is to rise from the 1,143 competitors that make up the Junior National brackets and become an All-American.
It starts with Jordan Williams of Illinois. Win that one and the road to the podium gets that much easier.
“I just have to keep wrestling at the level I’m at after these last two matches,” Earnest said. “I just have to pick it up more. I can’t give up two-point throws that can cost me in the future. I have to be greedier with my points and just keep wearing the kid down and getting after my stuff.”
Contact Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.