Greco-Roman wrestling specialty now successful for Jones of Saucon Valley

When school wrestlers move away from the folk style, the style of the sport used in American school and varsity matches, and both international / Olympic disciplines, it’s probably fair to say that most focus on the freestyle rather than on the Greco-Roman.

Freestyle is all about speed and neutral wrestling, and it looks more like folkstyle than Greco-Roman, where only upper body movements are allowed. “Greco”, as it is often called, attracts relatively fewer specialists.

But Jake Jones is one of them.

Jones, who will be a junior at Saucon Valley in the fall, was third at 71 kilograms (156 pounds) at last weekend’s Greco-Roman Cadet World Team Trials in Wisconsin Dells, winning All honors. -America.

And while Jones also wrestles in freestyle, his recent success in Greco has him rethinking his future direction in the sport.

“I’m just thrilled to be competing in Greco,” said Jones, who finished the school season ranked No. 2 in the region by lehighvalleylive at 170/172 pounds. “I entered this competition thinking that freestyle would be my main style. After that I will change my main style to El Greco and I will focus on that in the years to come. “

Jones also wrestled freestyle in practice, but was only 2-2 and did not place.

“It wasn’t what I expected,” said Jones, who said he will still be wrestling freestyle at this summer’s Cadet Nationals in Fargo.

But Jones had an idea that it could be done for Greco.

On the one hand, it seemed to suit his nature.

“Personally, I still like the whole upper body; I was always trying upper body stuff, ”he said. “I’ve never been a big shooter with legs. In the folk style, I always look for the headshots and throws.”

And second, he had had some success at El Greco.

“Two years ago at the Greek Under-15 tournament, which is the lower age than Cadets, I finished second at the World Tag Team Trials for that, and the kid who beat me, (Idaho ) Jadon Skellenger, won the world title, ”Jones said. “It made me want to participate in this tournament, to see if I had a chance.”

To give himself more luck, Jones dropped in terms of weight. He had struggled academically at 172 but chose to cut back to 156 for trials.

“Surprisingly, it wasn’t really a hard cut,” Jones said. “I started three weeks ago, I drank a lot of water, I cut out a lot of junk food (food). I trained four days a week doing Greco with my (older) brother, Jason. I felt a lot stronger than a lot of guys at 156 and definitely felt a little taller than them.

Considering who else Jones trained with, he needed to feel a bit. Saucon Valley State Champion Ray O’Donnell, who wrestled 285 at Princeton, was one of his partners, as was former Pather star Bryan Israel and Lehigh’s Kent Lane – a pretty impressive group. .

“Ray is a great guy,” Jones said with a laugh.

But successfully fighting larger enemies has a clear advantage in Greco – especially when matches can be very short.

“It’s important in Greco to keep good positions, with the knees bent, the head up and the control of the center of the foot is really important,” said Jones. “These matches are going a lot faster than folkstyle. This week, a technical drop in Greco was (one) eight points (margin); it’s two throws straight to the back and the game is over.

In such a competitive and trigger style where success or failure can come so quickly, a second or third pair of eyes watching, offering suggestions, and dealing with other matters can be the difference between a close victory and an excruciating loss. Support for Jones came from his family.

There he had Jason, his older brother and a Saucon Valley state medalist who is now an assistant coach at Emmaus.

“He was in my corner every game,” Jake Jones said. “Jason is a great coach and he is above everything. He knows everything about the sport and he always knows what he is talking about. He was as happy as I was. “

And offsite, from Fairfax, Va., Was Jones ‘middle brother Josh, the Panthers’ last (2019) state champion fighting for George Mason.

“Josh watched every game in college,” Jake said. “He texted me between games and gave me great advice.”

Jones came very close to being able to represent the United States abroad.

“It would have been great,” he said.

Jones lost his semifinal just 4-2 to Braden Stauffenberg of Illinois, and Stauffenberg won the best final 2 of 3 2-0 (9-3, 7-3) against Malachi Rider of Kentucky. In the consolation semifinal, Jones defeated former National Champion Thor Michaelson of Washington State and then pinned Dylan Elmore of Kansas, who Jones described as a “good friend”, for third place.

Jones is therefore not far from donning a “USA” jersey, and now that he has decided to focus on the Greco-Roman, his chances may have increased.

Jones will always compete in international competitions. Amid various American events, he hopes to train in England and compete in a tournament in Finland over the summer.

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Brad Wilson can be reached at [email protected].

Robert J. King