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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State champions: Jacob Snider, Steven Kelly, Austin Olsen
High school: Ponderosa
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
Snider is the 16th wrestler in the state to claim four high
school state championships and the first to do so from Ponderosa
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
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
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
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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