JA wrestler feels better prepared for state tourney


Jonathan Alder senior Jacob Johnson practices a takedown on Ohio Northern University grappler Seth Transue, who is a graduate of Dublin Jerome High School. Johnson will compete in the Division II state tournament, beginning later today at The Ohio State University.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
Jonathan Alder High School senior Jacob Johnson feels more prepared mentally this time around for the Division II state wrestling tournament.
“My confidence has shot up a lot from last year and I feel I’ve really improved as a wrestler,” he said.
Johnson will make his third consecutive state tournament appearance this afternoon at The Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
He will take a sparkling 39-1 record into the opening round as a No. 1 seed after winning a district championship last weekend.
Johnson will tangle with Fairfield Union sophomore Keegan Kohler (33-10).
The Alder grappler earned berths in the state tournament at the end of his sophomore and junior seasons.
His appearances both years were short-lived, as he posted 1-2 records both years.
Johnson said his history at the “Schott” should help him over the next few days.
“I don’t think I’ll be as nervous going into my first match as I was the last two years,” said Johnson. “I’m going there to prove to a lot of people that I can do it at the state.”
Johnson said he does his best wrestling while on his feet.
“I’m not as good of a mat wrestler,” he admitted. “I get most of my takedowns and score most of my points on my feet.”
The JA senior will take an impressive resume into state action.
He captured first-place finishes at Alder’s Ron Thomas Sr. Invitational and tournaments at Nelsonville-York and River Valley.
Johnson’s lone loss of the season came at the West Jefferson invitational when he fell to Nate Keaton of Circleville.
A rematch of that battle may be in the offing as Keaton, a senior with a 45-3 record, is on Johnson’s side of the state tournament bracket.
They could meet in the semifinals while still in the running for a state championship if they both win their first two battles.
Johnson said he really doesn’t have any concerns heading into the state tournament.
“Not really,” he said. “My physical conditioning is up a lot from last year and I feel I’m mentally ready.”
Johnson knows, however, that he can’t take anything for granted under the bright lights of OSU.
“This is the state tournament,” he said. “Everybody there is good, so I just have to take it one match at a time.
“Everybody is going to bring their ‘A’ game, so I have to leave everything I have on the mat during each match,” he said.

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