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Move up is worth the weight for Elliott

Oakmont wrestler is bigger, stronger and better as he chases a second state title
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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The bell at Oakmont High School rang in Christmas break at midday Wednesday, leaving just a few faces on campus tangling in the wrestling room.

State champion Jake Elliott wasn’t resting on his laurels — chasing gifts and girls at a mall or just hanging out. He was rolling on the mat with various Vikings teammates, working on moves and throws, even teaching and advising, as a senior leader would.

Elliott has been working toward this season since his arm was raised in his last match of last season — under the solo beam of the CIF State Championships at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, the best in the state at 145 pounds.

“One California state title is not good enough for me,” a sweating Elliott says. “I want two.”

Elliott, wrestling this season at 152 pounds, is off to an 8-0 start. He was 3-0 at the Vista del Lago tournament and last weekend went 5-0 at the Zinkin Classic at Buchanan in Fresno.

Oakmont coach Dave Wells is putting Elliott and Woodcreek transfer Peter Santos, another state qualifier last season, into big-time competition (read: Central California).

Each went into the Zinkin as a No. 1 seed at his weight, Santos at 160. Santos sustained an injury on his way to the final. Elliott crushed his competition, and in that neck of the woods, that’s saying something. Elliott pinned his first two foes, then won by technical fall in the quarterfinals. He won his semifinal match 6-1 and handled Colby Thompson of Clovis 13-3 in the final.

“Somebody like Thompson from Clovis last year may have been a two-point match, where this year it’s a 10-point match,” Wells says. “He knows it’s his last year, and he really wants to wrestle at a Division I university next year. He’s pushed himself even harder than last year and just wants to succeed even more, wants to win by larger margins and just wants to see how he competes with the best.”

Elliott measures himself against the best — in this case, Morgan McIntosh. Elliott noted that McIntosh, a three-time state champ from Santa Ana power Calvary Chapel and now a freshman at Penn State, didn’t allow an offensive point to be scored against him last season. Thus, Elliott doesn’t want offensive points to be scored against him this season.

So Elliott spent his offseason working on his leg defense and counter wrestling. He didn’t allow an offensive point to be scored on him at the Zinkin.

“If nobody’s going to score on you on their feet and you’re always pushing your offense, you have no worries,” Elliott says. “I know I have the offense already. I showed that at the state meet and around the area. It’s crucial you have good defense, too, and counter wrestling so when they make an attempt to take you down, you counter that and attack right back with your offense. That’s something I worked on all summer.”

Elliott says he feels great in the new weight class. He enters a typical practice at 157 pounds, so shedding weight isn’t an issue. Elliott also has increased his strength through additional weightlifting, and he remains fast.

Wells says Elliott is more methodical now. He sets up his shots.

“He can turn on the speed when he wants to, but he also can slow it down and work tie-up and upper body,” Wells says. “He picks his spots more wisely, sets it up and tries to make sure he finishes, gets some near-fall points and wrestles on all parts. He’s not just neutral anymore.”

He’s also more of a leader and coach now. Elliott observes and offers advice and tips to his teammates — the future of the Oakmont program, as he puts it — so they can be the best they can be. Elliott says he sees things from a different perspective when he’s in coach mode, which helps him in those same situations.

In giving back to the program, Elliott is dishing out the confidence he gained last season and belief in himself that no one can take him. He sought to add to that at the Zinkin.

“I got a target on my back, but that shouldn’t make me scared or nervous about anything,” Elliott says. “That should just make me want to get after these kids more and show them what it means to be a California state champ.”

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.

COMING WEDNESDAY

The Press Tribune will publish its 2011-12 wrestling season preview in Wednesday’s edition.