Master of the mats
Seven years into his career on the mats of Roseville, 17-year-old Dylan Jankovich of Roseville High has moved to the forefront of the wrestling conversation.
At 5-foot-6 and 132 pounds, the junior is one of the captains of the Tiger wrestling team. Jankovich displays a high level of maturity and has his eye on community involvement and leadership development in addition to wrestling success.
If his wrestling wasn’t impressive enough Jankovich has a GPA over 4.3.
“Our team's goal this year is all about developing leaders on and off the mat,” Jankovich said. “I am very proud of the Roseville Tiger wrestling tradition and our team is trying to build a program that involves the entire community by having our band, cheerleaders, alumni and upcoming RHS students included in our activities.”
The Roseville junior first hit the mat as a fifth grader. At that time, he grappled with athletes two and three years older than he was. Coach T.J. Maroon took over the Middle School program for Jankovich’s junior high seasons, and the young wrestler enjoyed big success.
During his eighth-grade year, no one even scored against Jankovich until Regionals, an amazing run of dominance.
In his freshman year at Roseville, he made it to the Sac-Joaquin Masters level, and he improved on that last season. As a sophomore, Jankovich finished third in the section and reached the state tournament.
His record this season weighs in at 25-5 with an outstanding 11 pins, and includes a first-place result at the Bulldog Classic in Turlock and a second at the prestigious Big Valley Classic in Stockton.
First-year head coach Jeremiah Miller says that Jankovich is one of the hardest working wrestlers he has ever coached.
“From the second the referee blows the whistle Dylan doesn’t let up for a moment,” Miller said. “His matches are a six-minute sprint; if they go out of bounds, he runs back to the center. He has beaten some really good wrestlers because they haven’t been able to maintain his pace.”
Beyond his wrestling prowess, Jankovich’s biggest contribution to the team is leadership.
“His work ethic sets a great example in practice and in competition,” Miller said. “He is quick to encourage his team mates and I have yet to hear him say anything negative to or about anybody.”
Coach Maroon first met Jankovich in fifth grade at Catherine Gates Elementary School where he was a classmate of his daughter.
“It’s rare that you see a young kid come up and actually want to roll with the big boys,” Maroon said about his experience with the young Jankovich. “His dedication and commitment were exemplary and as a coach you dream of having athletes like that. Dylan has set the precedent for all the kids coming up behind him. They all know who Dylan Jankovich is and they aspire to be like him.”
Brad Palitti is a freshman at Roseville High and new to wrestling this season. A little green behind the ears, Palitti joins a new team, with a new staff and the caliber Jankovich brings to the team.
“He’s just determined. In practice and all around Dylan is wrestling,” Palitti said. “He has such heart and his work ethic is what you notice most about him.”
David Wells is also in his first year as a high school coach. Wells is the head man across town at Oakmont. His sophomore Viking talent Jake Elliot is one of the wrestlers challenging Jankovich at 135 pounds. Elliott handed Jankovich one of his five losses in an 11-10 duel earlier this season.
Elliot had a takedown and Jankovich on his back for a 4-0 lead beginning the match. Jankovich surprised Wells when he followed with about three takedowns in a row. By the third round Elliot was down by one point and escaped a hold to win in the last 30 seconds.
According to Wells there are three wrestlers in Jankovich’s weight class that should make state - Jankovich, Elliott and Del Oro’s Austin Branum.
“Every time these three wrestle each other it could go either way,” Wells said. “He seems like a really good kid and is really tough on the mat especially on his feet. He also seems like he’s really strong, but also just a really nice kid.”
Not surprisingly, the good kid Wells speaks of has plans to make a difference on the world. Jankovich said his prospects include studying medicine at UC Davis or political science at Cornell.
His resume assuredly hits colleges as hard as he hits the mat. Jankovich still has another year at Roseville and that means the Tigers have these last two seasons to follow his example.
Note: Jankovich is one of three nominees for the Placer Sports Athlete of the Week for the week of Feb. 1. Log