The Press Newspaper
Jacob Auld didn’t compete in wrestling as an eighth-grader, but a sit-down talk with his dad, Jim, changed the younger Auld’s direction heading into his freshman year at Gibsonburg.
“We said, ‘Why not try it in high school now?’ ” said Auld, a senior. “I think I won all of 10 matches my freshman year, but I ended up getting third in the SLL. After that, we sat down and talked again about wrestling and we were like, if I can get third as a freshman, I can only get better.”
Auld won the 220-pound Ohio Wrestling League title as a sophomore despite weighing just 184.6 at weigh-ins. Suddenly, he was on a mission.
“I felt I kind of had to come back (as a junior),” Auld said, “because I was good at it when I wanted to be and the team could use me.”
Auld, who competes at 182 pounds this season, has become the face of the Golden Bears’ program along with junior teammate Dan Henline, a 170-pounder. Auld is 30-5 with 23 pins this season while Henline is 28-4 with 23 pins.
Fourth-year Gibsonburg coach Justin Edgell isn’t surprised.
“They’re having one of the best seasons we’ve had in two or three years, since Ryan Widmer and Damen Escobedo were both state qualifiers their senior year,” Edgell said. “This is the best one-two punch we’ve had since those guys.”
Auld, who has 88 career wins and is the Golden Bears’ biggest wrestler, won the Golden Bear Invitational and was 8-1 and made the all-tournament first team at the North Coast Holiday Duals at Genoa. He placed fourth at the Woodmore ‘A’ Classic and is a two-time team captain.
Auld won the OWL title at 182 pounds last year and took third at the sectional tournament before going 1-2 at districts. Last fall, as a linebacker, he was the defensive player of the year in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
“He’s incredibly athletic, fast and strong,” Edgell said. “When he was a freshman he still was kind of figuring out how to use his body. He was just a clumsy freshman, basically. But, he put in the time in the summer when it comes to footwork and weight training and going to summer wrestling camps and football conditioning camps. It’s all paid off for him now as a senior.”
Auld said his teammates and coaches are constantly pushing him to improve.
“Even though our team has low numbers, we have a bunch of individuals in the room who are all-in to wrestling,” he said. “They’re continually working to get better and get others better.”
Auld’s 29-10 record last season included a first-round loss at districts that helped change his attitude about what it will take to get to the state tournament.
“Not making it to state upset me a little bit,” Auld said. “That’s my No. 1 goal this year, to make it down to Columbus. I’m going to need the other big guys in the room to help me get there.”
One of those “big” guys is Henline, who is Auld’s wrestling partner. Henline won the Golden Bear Invitational and went 8-1 at the Holiday Duals and took first at the ‘A’ Classic. He is a two-time league runner-up and sectional placer.
“Dan is strong,” Edgell said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say we have a physically strong kid. He has great hips and a great wrestling body, and he has been wrestling for a very long time. He has wrestled in different situations and doesn’t have to think about it. He just goes out and wrestles.”
Henline, who has won 16 straight matches including 13 by pin, is known as a “pinner,” according to Edgell. Henline already has 63 career pins.
“As a freshman I saw him down 14-0 and pin the kid,” Edgell said.
Henline, a league runner-up at 160 as a freshman and sophomore, said he embraces that reputation.
“A pin is the most amount you get for team points and it gives room for error for my teammates so there’s not as much pressure on them,” Henline said. “Wrestling is an individual sport, but it’s better when the rest of the team knows you have their back so they don’t feel as much pressure going into a match.”
Henline said he’s using this season to gauge what he needs to work on for his senior year. He’s working on his speed - “I’m really slow. I have really slow footwork,” he said – and trying not to rely too much on headlocks.
“From here on out I’ve decided I want to place top three in my sectional, then top four in my district and then top 10 in the state,” Henline said. “I think those are reasonable goals for what I’ve done this season. We’ve wrestled a lot of teams that are going to be in our sectional and district, and I think so far I’ve raised the bar high for myself.”