When Jonathan Alder senior wrestler Jacob Johnson lost his quarterfinal match Friday morning, March 9 at the Division II OHSAA state championship tournament held at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center, he had two choices.
He could choose to continue to fight for a spot on the award’s podium or he could sulk about losing a match he probably could have won. Johnson chose to continue to give his best effort in the consolation rounds and his hard work paid off with a fifth-place finish at 120 pounds.
“I thought he wrestled well all weekend long,” longtime Alder coach Ron Thomas Sr. said. “He wrestled to win, he was aggressive and it paid off.”
The Pioneers standout took care of business in his first match of the weekend Thursday, Match 8. Johnson earned a 9-2 decision over Fairfield Union’s Keegan Kohlert, earning him a slot in Friday morning’s quarterfinal. Friday he dropped a 7-3 decision to Dominic Carone of Streetsboro. Johnson was penalized for series off illegal hands to the face penalties which led to points for his opponent.
After the tough loss in which he was the more aggressive wrestler, but just gave away too many points on penalties. Johnson got some advice from the veteran coach.
“That kid got four points in a 7-3 loss, take away those and we’re wrestling in overtime,” Thomas said. “We told Jake that he can’t change the way he’s been wrestling all year long. We told him to just keep doing what he’s been doing and it will all work out in the end.”
Johnson bounced back from the Friday morning loss to score a 7-1 decision over Bryce Davis of Kenton Ridge to earn himself a spot on the award’s podium. Johnson earned a 9-4 decision over Davin Rhoads of Louisville Friday.
He went into Saturday, March 10 knowing he would be on the podium anywhere between third and sixth place. He lost his match in a 11-1 major decision to Matthew Cardello of Cuyahoga Falls CBCA, dropping him into the fifth-place match.
Johnson (44-4) then closed out his high school wrestling career with a 5-1 sudden victory triumph over Brady O’Connor of Indian Valley.
With his fifth-place finish at the state, Johnson became part of select group of Alder wrestlers who have earned a place on the state award’s podium. One of those is his father Brandon, who placed sixth in 1991.
“It’s quite an accomplishment to place in the state and he did that,” the coach said. “I thought Brandon had placed fifth, but he said it was actually sixth so I guess Jake has bragging rights.
“I’ve know Jake basically his whole life. That’s just a great family. His grandma and I graduated together. They have a lot to be proud of.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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