(Posted March 28, 2018)
By Grant Zerkle, Messenger staffer
Southeastern High School senior Jesse Mitchell made the most of his place in school history. Not only is he the school’s first wrestler to qualify for the state wrestling tournament, he also is the first to place at state.
Mitchell finished fifth in Div. III’s 160-pound weight class at the big show, held March 8-10 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
When asked how he felt about advancing to state and making school history, Mitchell said, “I expected myself to get here, plus I’ve worked my butt off every year since grade school to get here. It’s been a dream of mine since as long as I can remember.”
After falling short of that dream his freshman, sophomore and junior years, Mitchell was more determined than ever to make state this year.
“He has been the hardest working kid we’ve had in the room the four years he’s been here. He’s been a leader but he’s been a silent leader. He leads by example,” Coach Joe Hall said.
“To watch him put the work in the weight room especially, to go from 120 (pounds) as a freshman to 138, then 160 for two years. He put the work in where he needed, where he felt he was the weakest, and it’s finally paid off.”
At state, after battling through the early rounds, Mitchell lost his semi-final match (14-5) to eventual state champion, Colt Yinger of Nelsonville-York. The loss sent him to the 3rd-8th positions consolation bracket.
He lost the next match by one point to eventual third-place finisher, James Limongi of Genoa. He then won his final match, facing Stephen Skeens of Massillion Tuslaw for the second time in the tournament. The win secured his fifth-place finish and a trip to the medals podium.
As for his future in wrestling, Mitchell said, “I’m looking at some colleges, and hopefully I get to further my career at one of them.”