Jordan Wood, a freshman on the Boyertown High School wrestling team, is your typical teenager, but yet has accomplished so much at the tender age of 14.
Yet this quiet, well-mannered kid had a dream to make it to the state finals and win the gold medal. He did make it to the state finals, but lost in the championship bout, 7-2. Three-time defending state champion Thomas Haines from Solanco High School defeated Wood at the 220 weight class at the PIAA state wrestling tournament last week in Hershey. Wood finished his season with an incredible record of 46-2. “It’s been pretty crazy,” said Wood. “46-2 is pretty good for a freshman, or for any age. I set goals for the year and I wanted to have less than three losses. I wanted to get 30 wins, I wanted to win PAC-10, district, regional and and state tournaments. I almost reached all my goals. Second place at states isn’t bad.
“It was almost a dream come true. My dream has been the same for two years, since Haines won his first state title. Get to the state finals against Thomas Haines. My dream was to be a state champ, and it still is. I came pretty close, everything was playing out just as I had imagined. It was pretty incredible.”
While he didn’t win the gold medal this year, his goals won’t change going into next year. Wood knows that he has three more years to accomplish this goal.
Being a freshman, Jordan faced wrestlers that were two, three or even four years older than him. Wood had to use his speed and knowledge to beat his opponent. A lot of the people he faced were a lot stronger than he was. He’ll be the first to tell you that maybe in the beginning of the season he was overlooked because he was a freshman. But as he started winning matches, his name got out there, other wrestlers found out who this young kid was.
Wood will be the first to tell you that when you make it to the state tournament, all the wrestlers there are very good, and got there for a reason.
“The match could go either way,” said Wood. “All the kids I wrestled were tough. Two of them were returning qualifiers who were looking for revenge and wanted to place. My third match was a tough senior. My fourth match was a two-time state champ. There was a lot of tough competition.”
The nerves grew with each match Jordan had, and he felt that he dealt with them well - at least he did through the semifinals. However, the state final match was very nerve-racking for him, especially when 8,000 people were there watching. He knew that he could pull off an upset against Haines. He believed he stood a good chance. With the win, he would have become the second freshman to win a state championship in the past 10 years.
“My first match was my first time in the Giant Center wrestling for PIAA states,” said Wood. “I watched every year before that.”
The way he handled the pressure was to relax abd focus only on his match. “It doesn’t really matter if I win or lose, I have to go out and wrestle,” said Wood. “Coach (Pete) Ventresca says go wrestle have fun. Don’t think about winning or losing.”
That kind of advice from his coach was a lot of help, along with all the help he got from his coaches and teammates. He quickly notes that it was a team effort getting everyone ready for the state meet. He also stated that everyone worked hard which helped him get ready.
Between his matches he would watch other wrestlers in his weight class to see what they do, so he knew what he was up against. He looked at what their records were and who they wrestled and how they did during the year.
“That helped get my head in the next match a little bit more,” said Wood. “I also like to know who they lost to and how badly they lost.”
It wasn’t until after his quarterfinal match that he realized that he would finish in the top six in the state. He knew that it wasn’t until after his semifinal match that he realized that he could win state gold with one more win.
Jordan will tell you that the kid he faced in the semifinal match was a big and strong kid who was very athletic. “I knew that I could beat him, I just had to wrestle smart,” said Wood. “He was a lot stronger than me.”
Facing a kid (Zach DeLuca of Pittsburgh Central Catholic) that was bigger and stronger than him, Jordan had to use his speed and knowledge. He also had to capitalize on the mistakes his opponent made. He did just that and came away with a 5-3 win and a chance to be state champion with one more win.
In his finals match, Wood was very nervous. The first two periods went very well, he was tied at 2-2. Fatigue took over in the third period and Haines capitalized on his mistakes.
After a few days to reflect on the match, there were some changes he would have made if he could do it again. “I would have tried to ride him a little bit longer on top, instead of kicking him (letting him up),” said Wood. “I should have been more offensive on my feet and attacking. I was too defensive.”
That’s just one of the many lessosn he learned during his freshman season - lessons he will apply to next year’s season. “I want to win states,” said Wood. “No more nerves, get after the kids to secure that medal.”
Jordan knows what he has to work on for next year. His first place is to get bigger, stronger and better.
Wood joins some very elite company: Jeremy Minich (10-11), Freddy Rodgers and Josh White (05-06), as well as Zak Miller (96-97) as state runner-ups.
“It’s really cool being second in the state, especially as a freshman,” said Wood. “I have three more tries at it. To see my name up on the board of champions is what I really want. I’ve made my mark so far in Boyertown wrestling history. I want to try and keep it up.