Gateway: Sports

Jake Flynn had not wrestled in high school before. Now the Tides senior is one of the state’s best

jmanley@gateline.com

Jake Flynn might be kicking himself for waiting this long to come out for the wrestling team at Gig Harbor High School. The senior, who has posted a 21-8 record in the 195-pound weight class and is now a top-10 ranked wrestler in his weight class in Class 3A.

This is his first season wrestling in high school.

“I just decided this year that after football, I have nothing else to do, so I might as well wrestle,” Flynn said.

Flynn wrestled through elementary and middle school, all the way up until the eighth grade. But as a undersized offensive lineman for the Gig Harbor football team, he focused on bulking up for football, rather than wrestling.

“I was the little skinny kid on the line,” Flynn said. “It was tough being smaller.”

Now, Flynn dropped down from 220 pounds during football season to about 195 now and has been a revelation for Gig Harbor.

“He’s an awesome wrestler and a good person to have in the room,” said Gig Harbor coach Jacob Spadoni. “He’s a 4.0 student, works his absolute hardest all the time. He’s just a good role model to have, too.”

Spadoni said the high school program has had some trouble with turnout, even with kids who wrestled in middle school.

“We’re struggling with that transition,” Spadoni said. “Just getting them to come out for the team and not take several years off. We have four seniors who are first-year wrestlers for me this year.”

Spadoni said the increased trend of specialization in one sport is the biggest factor to blame.

“And it’s 100 percent false,” Spadoni said. “Kids aren’t benefiting and they’re actually getting hurt more.”

For someone like Flynn, Spadoni wonders what he might look like with three years of high school wrestling experience under his belt prior to this season.

“If we had him for those four years, there’s no telling where he could be right now,” Spadoni said.

That being said, there’s no sense in wondering what if. While it would’ve been nice to have Flynn for four years, Spadoni will gladly take the senior season he has given the Tides.

“He’s brought a lot of maneuverability and talent to those upper weights for us,” Spadoni said.

And his wrestling background, while a bit rusty, never went away.

“He’s like a sponge,” Spadoni said. “You teach him something once and he just gets it. He’s extremely tough, he’s strong, he’s resilient.”

And Flynn’s intelligence is evident, even during the course of a match.

“He has a unique ability to learn as the match goes on,” Spadoni said. “I think that’s mainly because of being a sponge. We tell him to do something differently in between rounds and he just gets it. You tell him something during the match and he’s able to fix it.”

Flynn said he’s been working on being confident in his abilities on the mat.

“At the beginning of the season, I was kind of hesitant with my shots,” he said. “The last couple weeks or so, my shots have been pretty aggressive. I’ve been pinning kids quicker.”

While it’s his first and final high school season, Flynn is a strong bet to sneak into the Mat Classic state tournament at the Tacoma Dome, and possibly even earn a high placement in the 195-pound weight class. Reigning state champion Derrick Platt, from Yelm, is the favorite to win the title.

“State is my goal right now,” Flynn said. “I think it’s going to be tough. We’ve got a tough league and region in my weight class. I’m just going to have to keep working hard.”

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