Wellington High School wrestler Patrick Jones — who competes in the 120-pound weight class — has returned home following a series of successful matches at the U.S. Marine Corps Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.
The event was held July 17-22 at the FargoDome, which is on the campus of North Dakota State University. At this national competition, Jones, now entering his senior year at WHS, performed so well that he became the first Wellington wrestler to earn All-American honors at the prestigious event. He competed in both Olympic styles of wrestling — Freestyle and Greco — over the week-long competition.
Jones had lots of competitive company on the wrestling mat. According to WHS head wrestling coach Travis Gray, the meet had more than 100 competitors from around the country.
The week began with Freestyle competition, where Jones finished with a 5-2 record and fell two matches short of the All-American awards, which are given to the top eight finishers. Day four began with the Greco portion of the tournament, where Jones didn’t get off to a good start, losing his first-round match. As a result, Jones needed to win seven straight matches in order to make it to the awards stand — and that’s exactly what he did!
In order to stay loose in between all those matches, Jones did a little bit of jogging, kept moving and stretching, and drank water.
Along the way, he defeated many state champions, as well as the returning national champion — Austin Laudenbach from Minnesota — as he battled his way all the way back to a sixth-place finish.
In his performance against Laudenbach, Jones focused on the fundamentals of the sport to earn the win.
“I stayed focused, and I didn’t get too confident,” Jones said. “I just made sure I wrestled solid and tried to continue to score points.”
Gray was impressed by Jones’s many fine performances on the wrestling mat.
“It was an incredible performance, even more so considering that this was the first year that Patrick has ever competed in those two styles of wrestling and has only been in the sport of wrestling for three years,” Gray said.
As Jones looks back on his visit to North Dakota for the Junior National Championships, he walked away with a new appreciation for the sport of wrestling
“Wrestling is not a sport that anyone can get into,” Jones said. “It is for the individuals who really want to work hard.”
In addition to wrestling a number of matches, watching his weight and getting enough sleep, Jones was able to squeeze in a little sightseeing on the trip.
“We were able to go by the Rudis wrestling museum nearby, but most of the time I was watching my weight,” Jones said.