Jessen won the 182-pound championship at the Dvorak Invitational at Harlem High School in Machesney Park. Jessen, ranked No. 3 nationally, won a 3-2 decision over No. 8 and Wisconsin recruit Jared Krattiger and then 6-4 over No. 14 and Illinois recruit Zac Braunagel of Belleville Althoff in the final for Jessen's third Dvorak Invitational title. Jessen, who will wrestle collegiately at Northwestern, improved to 26-0 on the season.
West, the Suburban Life Athlete of the Week sponsored by Gracik Makinney, spoke with sports editor Joshua Welge about the season. Here's an edited transcript:
Welge: How significant was winning this tournament?
Jessen: It means a lot. This year especially was a particularly hard year. There were a lot of ranked kids, state-recognized kids. I knew it would be a tough one. This was my third time winning it, and probably the best one.
Welge: What stood out from the last two matches?
Jessen: The semifinal, the first period I got taken down. I was losing 2-0 and was able to get a reversal at the end of the first period to tie. I rode him out the second period and was able to keep the lead. I knew the kid in the final, I trained with him for nationals. I knew to come at him real hard in the first period. It was 4-1 at the end of the first period. After that I kept the pressure on.
Welge: I saw that you aspired to reach 1,000 takedowns for your high school career. Where are you at with that?
Jessen: It's definitely a goal. I think I'm less than 100 away. In our wrestling room we have posted on the wall all the records like season record for takedowns. I wanted to be on top of all the boards.
Welge: Speaking of goals, how much do you burn to win a state title given how close you've been? [Jessen was second in the state as a freshman, third as a sophomore and second as a junior]
Jessen: It's definitely been on my mind. It's been my motivation for four years. Coming up short, it was really painful. I've used that pain and that feeling as motivation to strive to train harder – watching more film, going on fresh runs. I'm using that to make sure I don't come away empty-handed.
Welge: What kind of work did you do between high school seasons?
Jessen: I do a lot of training. I go to Northwestern for workouts. I also train with Team Illinois. I went to Fargo and won Greco-Roman and took second in Freestyle. It helps a lot. Everybody you face there will be good. They are at a national level, top-tier Division I. It prepares me mentally to get ready for those big matches.