Washington wrestlers confident heading into state championships
By By RON CLEMENTS, Sports Correspondent
Last season the Washington High School wrestling team took three grapplers to the state Class 3-A meet. Coming into this season, first-year coach Rick Garrett said he wanted to improve the Washington wrestling program. He did.
Garrett took over a team that was struggling to find an identity and today, he will take four Pam Pack wrestlers to the state 3-A meet in Winston-Salem.
Leading the way for the Pack is junior heavyweight, Moore (24-3). He won last weekend's Eastern Regional in Manteo and is making a return trip to the state championships. Moore is more confident in going back this year, much of that confidence coming from the Manteo regional where he defeated Southern Wayne's Paul Robinson, 3-1, in overtime. Robinson defeated Moore in last season's regional final.
Nathan Jakubowski won the consolation finals in the 112-pound weight class at Manteo. The sophomore improved his record to 22-9 after a victory over West Carteret's Victor Hojila.
Like Moore, Jakubowski is making a return trip to state and Garrett feels good about the sophomore's chances.
Jakubowski sang Garrett's praises and thinks he can contend for a state title because of his coach.
Jakubowski's brother, Josh, is the lone senior going to the state meet, but hurt his seeding by placing fourth at regionals. Although he dropped four matches late in the year, the 152-pound senior is still taking a 27-6 record to Winston-Salem and is not worried about where he will be seeded.
Jakubowski spars with Moore in practice and, consequently, Moore said he is in better shape and would welcome a shot at Southwestern Randolph's Jordan Wall, whom Moore says is the "top guy to beat."
Wall pinned Moore last year at the state meet on his way to a top four finish. With more confidence and in better shape, Moore is convinced that he can defeat Wall this year.
His coach feels the same way.
Keith Harper, who gained confidence as the season got older, is the most unlikely wrestler heading to Winston-Salem from Washington. Harper, a 119-pound sophomore, placed fourth at regionals and will take a 14-15 record to state. He started out slow, but has been on a tear lately.
Harper said being with his teammates will make it easier for him to not be intimidated at the state meet and he will try to keep himself calm before matches by listening to music.
The intimidation was something that affected Nathan Jakubowski last season.
For Josh Jakubowski, it's one last chance at a state title and, despite his late-season struggles, both he and his coach are making adjustments to help him achieve his goal.
Jakubowski said that he's been letting his opponents be the aggressor in the match and he will go on the offensive more in the state meet.
Although Garrett is not expecting a team place -- this year -- he is expecting big things for his grappling quartet this weekend.