Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The thought has been lurking in Jared Jensen's head all season: Get back to New Englands.
An injury derailed Jared Jensen's hopes for a high finish at last year's New England high school wrestling championships, but he's primed to make a title run this year.
As the Maine Class A state meet approached, the concept became a drumbeat for the Brunswick senior in his so-far undefeated 47-0 season.
"First, I was focusing on winning the state title," said Jensen. "You can't go (to New Englands) unless you're a state champion. But New Englands were always in back of my mind. so I knew I had to win the state title first."
Jensen is one of a handful of wrestlers from Maine with legitimate aspirations to contend for an individual title at the 49th annual New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships that begin Friday and conclude Saturday in Providence, R.I. The state champions in Class A, B, and C qualified to compete. A committee seeded the state champs for the purposes of placement in the New England bracket.
Joining Jensen on the short list of Maine's best are undefeated 138-pound senior Danny DelGallo of Gardiner, Marshwood sophomore Cody Hughes (152), and Fryeburg Academy senior Connor Sheehan (113). DelGallo placed second last year, while Sheehan was fourth.
Other area wrestlers entering as Maine's top seed are Colin Sevigney of Wells (126), Trevor Smith of Marshwood (132), Coleman Powers of Camden Hills (145), Nick Vogel of Greely (160) and Brett Gerry of Marshwood (182).
That Jensen would win the Class A 170-pound title seemed to be a given at the start of the season. He hasn't lost to an in-state wrestler since his freshman season, winning state titles at 130 as a sophomore and 152 as a junior.
But upsets and misfortune can happen.
Belfast senior Brent Waterman was primed to become a four-time state champion until he injured his ankle on the eve of the state meet while walking his dog with his father.
Jensen had his bout of bad timing last year at the New England meet.
Midway through a closely contested semifinal bout, he re-injured a shoulder and had to withdraw from the rest of the tournament, settling for sixth place. He had already beaten the two wrestlers who would wind up third and fourth.
"I'll definitely know what I'll be going against and I won't be nervous or anything," Jensen said. "Last year I should have placed third but injured myself, so it definitely gives me some belief that I could win the whole thing."
Regardless of this weekend's outcome, Jensen termed his senior season "a great one. My goal was to dominate everyone this year. And I've done that."
Jensen has won three straight state titles after being a state runner-up as a freshman. He's done it while steadily climbing in weight division: starting at 119 as a freshman. He's also done it as an independent wrestler, albeit one with his father, Mt. Ararat Coach Erick Jensen, as his coach.
"The fact of the matter is he's an independent and that whole aspect is hard on a kid," Erick Jensen said. "Granted I'm his dad and his coach, but being an independent, not having a team at his own school, is just a different complex that he has to deal with every day that other kids don't."
This week, Jensen has been making the 75-minute drive to South Berwick to practice with Class A champ Marshwood, which is sending six wrestlers to the New Englands.
"I can't replace what he can get down there at Marshwood," Erick Jensen said. "Those kids will go after and attack Jared, and that's one area where he needed to improve."
Jensen, 17, said he's looking forward to wrestling and playing football for another year as a prep school post-graduate (he's applied to Phillips Exeter Academy), with the hopes of improving his chances at a football scholarship. In his first season as a starting running back, Jensen gained 2,351 yards on 243 carries, including a mammoth 428-yard game against Bangor.
"Once I had the season I had and realized what I could do, I definitely wanted to (play football) in the future as well," Jensen said.
But the next athletic contest is the one that has been on his mind all year.
"I'm hoping I win the whole thing. That's really my goal," Jensen said, "but whatever happens, happens. It will be my last tournament high school-wise, so I have to do everything I can to finish strong."
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: