Last season, Jake Ricco was an unknown quantity among wrestlers, but that changed when the Peninsula High School grappler qualified for his first appearance at the Mat Classic state championships.
As a senior 152-pounder, Ricco is hoping to build on his initial trip to state. He went 0-2 there last February, but getting there has raised his reputation. The Washington Wrestling Report, a state authority on all classifications, put Ricco at No. 6 in its latest Class 3A rankings.
Ricco reached the title bout at the HammerHead Invitational on Dec. 15 in Silverdale. He lost a 3-1 decision to Brandon Short of White River, even though many observers felt he earned a tying takedown late in the match.
Ricco didn’t gripe about the officiating.
“A lot of people thought I got the takedown, and so do I, but even if I didn’t, I got to the finals, and I worked hard to get to the finals,” he said. “I’ve got to just make it so I don’t have to worry about a takedown at the end of the match. You’ve got to separate yourself a little bit more.”
As the Seahawks prepared for a training session and a dual meet with the Curtis Vikings last week, Ricco spoke with The Peninsula Gateway about his wrestling career:
The Peninsula Gateway: How did you get started as a wrestler?
Jake Ricco: I was introduced by my dad when I was a little kid, but I basically started in middle school. Starting in eighth grade, I started doing offseason competitions. I’ve been doing it ever since.
PG: What have you improved on the most since you came to the high-school level?
JR: All-around wrestling, being able to keep pushing the pace and getting better at my moves. I’ve had trouble in the past keeping the pace, but I’ve been working on that, and just working on finishing all my moves.
PG: Reaching the state tournament last season represented a big breakthrough. What did that do for your confidence?
JR: I got pinned at state, so that motivates me to not let that happen again, and to work harder so that I reach the top. I don’t want to be held back by anything.
PG: What do you need to do for the rest of the season to medal at Mat Classic?
JR: Just keep working. I have a partner, Casey Larson (a two-time state medalist), who pushes the pace every day. I just need to keep working on the moves I’m not good at, and getting better at the moves I am good at.
PG: Has anyone other than Larson been a big motivator for you?
JR: My coaches have always motivated me, and some of my teammates, like Randy Nimrick, who placed at state last year. The offseason wrestlers who go year-round motivate me. They want to get better, and so do I.
PG: What do you like to do when you’re not wrestling?
JR: If I wasn’t wrestling, I don’t know what I’d do. I used to play other sports, but now, I focus my whole career on just wrestling. Wrestling, school, and that’s pretty much all I’m focused on right now.
PG: What are your plans following graduation?
JR: I’m thinking about wrestling after high school. I still haven’t made up my mind. I’m not necessarily sure I want to go on to the next level, but I’d sure love to see what it’s like and give it a chance, maybe. It all depends. I want to see how this season goes, and see if I want to keep going after that.Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.