What’s in a name? Everything if you’re Black River’s Jacob Campbell.
One of the school’s most accomplished wrestlers and its career wins leader (144), the senior heads into his final postseason knowing the end of an era is near.
Not only is the son of Bruce and Denise Campbell competing in the last few weeks of his career, he’s the last in a line of brothers who have found success on the mat.
Bruce Campbell, 59, won a state title for Oberlin High School during an undefeated season in 1976 and later wrestled at Cleveland State.
His oldest brother and coach, 29-year-old Jesse Campbell, went to two finals and won heavyweight in Division III as a senior at Black River. Jesse, who wrestled at Ohio State, held the school record for career wins (141) before Jacob Campbell beat it.
Middle brother Cory Campbell, a 2011 Elyria Catholic graduate who went to Black River as a freshman, won 119 matches despite missing a season and a half to injury and later wrestled for Kent State. He also went to state twice.
“It’s the last shot,” Jacob Campbell said. “I’m going to give it all I got. I’m going to leave it all out there. I’m not leaving it up to a ref. I’m not leaving it up to anybody. I’m wrestling my matches and seeing where everything falls into place.”
If things go like they have this season, Jacob Campbell should have no problem. A state qualifier as a junior, the 195-pounder is 42-2 and four wins from breaking big brother’s season mark (45).
All of that should bring a ton of pressure, but Jacob Campbell swears it doesn’t. In fact, he thinks he has the edge because wrestling is all the 18-year old has ever known.
“Any time I have a question or want to see something new, I’ve got instant access to somebody who knows what they’re doing,” Jacob Campbell said. “Other kids, their coach is just a coach and not a brother. They might forget about something. Any time I think about anything, it’s right there. It’s not like we’re going anywhere. It’s 8 o’clock at night and I get my answer.”
It doesn’t just come from his dad or Jesse Campbell, as Cory Campbell adds his two cents from Indianapolis, where he is an air traffic controller.
No matter where Cory is or what he’s doing, he’ll stop and watch his baby brother wrestle every match despite being an assistant coach at Decatur Central.
Cory Campbell came into town just to take the feature photo for The Gazette. He’s also taken the week off for state to come back and coach Jacob.
“I Facetime with someone every match,” Cory Campbell said. “I don’t care if I’m at work or if I’m at my own tournament. I’m an assistant and I told my head coach, ‘Look, when my brother is wrestling, I’m stopping and watching. I don’t care what’s going on. I don’t care if we’re in the state finals. He’s my priority until March.’
“I told him a long time ago, what you’re a part of is very unique. It’s a legacy passed down. Once the sheep, now the shepherd. I told him I don’t want you to be me. I don’t want you to be Jesse. I don’t want you to be Dad. I want you to be better than us. He’s just kind of showing off now.”
Jacob Campbell returns to Independence this weekend to defend his sectional title in hopes of bettering his showing last season in Columbus, where he finished one match away from placing.
Jesse Campbell won’t add pressure because he knows he doesn’t need to.
“We both have the same goal, I would say,” Jesse Campbell said. “It’s a very unique situation because you always see the parent of the wrestler where the dad is the coach and the kid is the wrestler. He’s not my son, so it’s more of an extension of our relationship.
“I know he’s putting everything into it. He’s put everything into it. We’ve put everything into it. I don’t have to tell him, ‘We have to do this. We have to do that.’ We have three weeks left. I think we’ve got one thing left to do, and that’s get on the podium. We talked about it the second the season began. It’s all we’ve been thinking about.”
Nicknamed “The Junkyard Dog” because of his ability to mesh Cory Campbell’s in-your face style with the brawn of Jesse Campbell, Jacob Campbell isn’t worried about a single thing in his quest for gold.
He knows all he has to do is put on the black and yellow and do his thing and let the rest take care of itself.
“It’s not that tough,” Jacob Campbell said. “I let (my brothers) handle the brackets and I go out there and wrestle.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.