Wrestling: Jackson reaches finals at 152 lbs.
Rosemount junior Adam Jackson has participated in his share of high profile wrestling tournaments.
Jackson earned a trip to last week's Class 3A state meet after placing second in the Section 3 meet a week earlier. Class 3A, Section 3 is regarded as one of the top sections in the state in wrestling.
Yet, the surroundings and atmosphere at the Xcel Energy Center last week were an adjustment for the first-time state-entrant. Even finding a location in the bowels of the arena to prepare for matches can be a challenge.
"It's tough to find a warm-up spot," Jackson said. "There are so many people under there in the beginning. As you go on, there are less and less guys."
Thankfully for Jackson, he wasn't one of the wrestlers who went home early. Jackson found more and more room to prepare as he marched through the tournament in his 152-pound weight class, adding to his experience at last week's state meet.
"In a regular tournament you have parents and a couple other people there," Jackson said. "This tournament, you have the lights shining down, a full Xcel Center. I just knew I had to get through the first match. After the first one, it wasn't as nerve-wracking."
Jackson had plenty of time to adjust after winning his first three matches and making it to the finals at 152 pounds. Jackson finished second in the state at his weight class.
"Going in we knew he had a good draw and felt he could get into the state finals," Irish coach Brett Larson said. "You just try and concentrate on winning one match at a time. You can't overlook things. It's a little bit of wrestling in St. Paul at the Xcel Center. It's a big stage and there are a lot of people and a lot of things are happening.
"He did an outstanding job keeping it together, staying focused and calm the entire time. He was really in control of all three matches. No question he was the second-best wrestler at that weight."
Jackson started the tournament with a 10-7 win against Coty Milhausen of Willmar. Jackson entered the tournament as the No. 3 ranked wrestler at 152 pounds, the second-highest rated wrestler in the bracket. Milhausen was ranked No. 10.
Getting through the first round might have been one of the biggest obstacles.
"He was a little jittery in the first match," Larson said. "It's always tough down there. It's pretty tight that first match. Guys don't want to make a mistake."
With his first state match out of the way, Jackson beat White Bear Lake's Cody Anderson 7-1 in the second round.
He followed with a 9-6 win against Cody Glines of Cambridge-Isanti in the semifinals.
"My goal going in was to make the finals and I got that goal," Jackson said. "It felt great. It was a feeling I've never felt before."
In the finals, Jackson had another matchup with Apple Valley's Destin McCauley. McCauley, ranked No. 1, won with a pin at 59 seconds, finishing off his record-tying fifth state title.
"We told him to enjoy it," Larson said. "Just being there was fun. We hoped it would last longer, but McCauley was just at a different level at state this year. He cranked it up to go out with a bang. There's no shame in that. He's arguably the best recruit in the country. It was just icing on the cake. You kind of know the outcome. It's unfortunate to say that, but you have realistic.
"To be a non state-entrant one year and to be in the state finals the second year is a phenomenal turnaround."
Jackson finished the season with a 38-3 record, his only losses coming to McCauley in conference action, the section individual finals and the state individual finals.
"I had already wrestled him twice and know he's an elite wrestler," Jackson said. "I just went out there and tried my best. He's probably the best wrestler in the nation. You can't feel too bad about it."
While falling short this year, Jackson already has his eye on a return trip to the state meet.
"I have goals for next year and I have only one place in mind," Jackson said.