Leave it all out on wrestling mat: Junior looks forward to competing one last year

Erin Garcia

Sports generally involve a team effort, and while wrestling is more focused on the individual, junior Jackson Ross still appreciates the bond between him and his fellow wrestling teammates.

“I enjoy the camaraderie that exists between all of the wrestlers and [Coach Mike] Zito,” Ross said. “Because there are only 14 of us, we are very close and like to goof off and mess with one another. But when it comes to the matches themselves, we are all serious and ready to go.”

Although there’s no “I” in team, the sport of wrestling allows each individual to feel accomplished for how they performed out on the mat.

“Getting to go out on the mat and show off what I [and the rest of the team] worked so hard for and then getting your hand raised at the end, and knowing that you alone beat your opponent in skill, strength and endurance is a great feeling,” Ross said.

For some, learning how to balance an academic life with an athletic life can come as a
challenge, but for Ross, that challenge is nonexistent.

“For me, balancing class work with sports has never really been an issue,” Ross said. “Grades are rarely an issue on our team because we know that if one of us fails, the team could lose.”

Having a strong bond between teammates is a vital part in developing a successful sports team. For Ross and the rest of the wrestling team, the connection comes easy.

”Everyone in that gym knows about one another’s personal life,” Ross said. “They know that everyone on the team is willing to help them with anything, whether it be school work, giving someone a ride, or family issues.”

Ross has been apart of the wrestling team since the beginning of his high school career, and plans on continuing until senior year.

“I do not plan on continuing to compete after high school,” Ross said. “I may help local kids or club teams but I am going to finish my wrestling career at Bryan High. I’m going to be finishing my final year on the team.”

Though Ross doesn’t plan on pursuing wrestling after high school, he is grateful for what he has learned from the sport.

“Wrestling has taught me so many things,” Ross said. “Things like hard work, discipline, time management, what it means to be physically and mentally tough, and much more.”

Ross said that some doubted him and were skeptical about his chosen sport, but he worked hard to prove them wrong.

“At first my friends made fun of me in a joking way because in their eyes wrestling wasn’t ‘cool,’” Ross said. “But when they came out and saw how much strength and training and hard work it took to be a wrestler, they supported me. My family has always supported me in everything I do.”

Though his plans don’t include competitive wrestling, Ross has high hopes for his future after high school.

“Right now for college, I am hoping to get into the California Institute of Technology for mechanical engineering and robotics,” Ross said.

Ross said that he is very appreciative of his teammates, and coach, and the strong relationships they all share.

“Our team is a close knit group of guys and girls who mess around when we can, but know when to be serious and get to work,” Ross said. “I can trust my teammates with anything and we would do anything for one another. [Coach Mike] Zito is the same way. He knows how to cut loose and have fun, and he treats us like young adults and athletes. We’re like family.”