Sidelines: Special Edition

Posted 2/26/10

State champions: Jacob Snider, Steven Kelly, Austin Olsen High school: Ponderosa Sport: wrestling We took a moment to speak with three of Ponderosa …

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Sidelines: Special Edition


State champions: Jacob Snider, Steven Kelly, Austin Olsen

High school: Ponderosa

Sport: wrestling

We took a moment to speak with three of Ponderosa High School’s state wrestling champions, including four-time gold medalist senior Jacob Snider at 145 pounds, two-time state champion — like his brother Daniel — senior Steven Kelly at 152 and two-time gold medal winner junior Austin Gabel at 171.

With Kelly and Gabel winning their second consecutive title Feb. 20 at the Pepsi Center in Denver during the Class 5A state wrestling championships, the wrestling program at Ponderosa has officially produced more wrestlers who have won two-or-more state titles (10) than it has one-time state title winners (8) in its history.

Snider is the 16th wrestler in the state to claim four high school state championships and the first to do so from Ponderosa wrestling.

Was there any kind of added pressure to win two championships like your brother Daniel did last year?

SK: Not necessarily as much pressure, just cause as a sophomore, I put so much pressure on my shoulders trying to win a state championship, and I knew I kind of couldn’t do it with [Tyler] Graff there. Last year, when I won it, I was that much closer to meeting what my brother had done, so this year, I just felt not as much pressure, cause I had already won a title before, and I knew I could do it again if I just stayed healthy and wrestled hard.

What kind of pressure were you feeling this time at state, being up for a fourth championship win?

JS: There was a lot of pressure. I felt like everything I had done — probably up until that last finals match, I kind of felt like if I would of lost that, my entire high school career wouldn’t have been complete.

The moment you won your fourth finals match, you looked over to the coaches’ corner and kind of shrugged. What went through your mind at that moment?

JS: I was just relieved. All the pressure just went off, and I just looked at my coach.

You have the chance to be a three-time champion, which is rare even for Ponderosa’s program. What are you planning on doing to make sure that happens?

AG: I think for next year, I just have to come in with the same mentality I’ve had the last two years. I just have to wrestle my style and my kind of match. If I’m able to do that, then I think it gives me the opportunity to become a three-timer. I’m sure people are going to come after me even more now, just because there’s nothing to lose. That’s what wrestling is about, just getting after it.

What goes through your head when you’re wrestling?

JS: I think before the match, I kind of have in my head what I want to do. If that doesn’t happen, then I go to the second thing I want to do. I just have all these things I have ready to deal. Or, I’ll listen to exactly what my coach says. I don’t really think much. I just listen to him.

AG: Really, I’m just trying to be mean with the kid, get in his head and crack him down almost. You can feel when a kid cracks. It’s one of the best feelings ever, cause you know you’ve just got him. I just try to be relentless on him.

SK: When I’m in the zone, I can tell he’s getting tired. If I’m more tired then he is at that time, I just keep getting on him, and he’ll eventually get more tired than me. Like Gabel said, I like making them crack, and once they crack, you know you can do some damage.

If Walt Disney Pictures made one of those heart-felt inspirational movies about your championship wins, who would play you and what kind of music would be on the soundtrack?

AG: I’d go with some sort of classic rock. That’s always good. Maybe some Tom Petty. I think maybe someone like Leonardo DiCaprio [would play me].

SK: I’d probably say Eminem. Probably his music as well.

JS: I have no idea. The music would probably be something from the ’80s. The actor, maybe Matt Damon. I don’t know.

There’s a lot of superstitions in sports. Do you have any pre-match or post-match rituals?

AG: I get pretty superstitious, especially when I get to state. There’s a lot of weird stuff I do. The main thing is, the last song I listen to before I wrestle has to be the same every single time. Before I wrestle I also have to get my legs loose, so I do these three jumps where I jump as high as I can in the air. I have to do it three times. Once I do that, I know I’m set and ready to go.

SK: Superstitions for me happened just this year. I rolled my ankle about two months ago, and I started taping my left ankle before every match. At regionals, I didn’t even have to tape it, but I just taped it cause I’d been wrestling with it all year long. Also, I listen to the same songs every time I warm up.

No wrestler is going to come into this program without hearing about Jacob Snider. Especially being a senior, how does that make you feel?

JS: It feels pretty good. I kind of hope it helps kids to look up to that [accomplishment] and maybe they’ll work harder. Even when their little, they may work harder and try to become a state champion their freshman year and try to do the same thing as I did. Hopefully, they will see it as motivation and see it’s possible for anyone to do it.


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