By Ben Rigney-Carroll, ’21.
Despite restrictions placed on winter sports this year due to COVID-19, many athletes at UAHS have still seen success this season. Earlier this season, senior and wrestling team captain Jacob Shanklin achieved his one hundredth high school competition victory. In a meet against Marysville on Dec. 30, Shanklin beat his one hundredth high school opponent, adding his name to the list of 12 other grapplers in UA history who have previously achieved this milestone. Another senior, Jake Thomas, this year also achieved one hundred wins this year.
From his high school experience and success, Shanklin plans on continuing wrestling in college to somewhat make up for his senior season.
“[This season] definitely hasn’t been the same as I would’ve thought,” Shanklin said. “I’m just happy I get to wrestle.”
The season was limited to matches that were not canceled by COVID-19, and attendance of fans was
limited to family members of participating athletes. Considering the loss of some matches, the requirement of masks and some social distancing standards, the season changed from previous years unaffected by COVID-19. Even with the changes, it was good news to the team to even have a season this year due to the high contact nature of the sport.
“It was super exciting after the state tournament got canceled last year, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t have a season and wouldn’t be able to [wrestle],” Shanklin said.
This year, like many winter sports, the wrestling team is trying to form a “bubble” to protect against COVID-19 and to best ensure the continuation of their season. Many wrestlers have completely paused contact with friends and family outside of their household to help with this effort. With the wrestling season already being a demanding and fast-paced ordeal, this further solidifies the commitment grapplers have had to show this year in order to keep their season going.
Although Shanklin has been wrestling for 13 years, he said that this season has been a major moment for his time with the sport. As the season comes to an end, he said he is is “looking forward to getting to compete at the state meet.” Notably, due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic this same time last year, last year’s state meet was canceled, making this year feel even more valuable.
As this year comes to an end, and as many of our seniors focus more on the future than the present, Shanklin looks forward to wrestling after high school.
“I just love wrestling,” he said. “Nothing I would rather do.”