Hard work pays off for Forest Park?s Jacobs


Many of Forest Park’s wrestlers are still trying to get acclimated to life as a varsity wrestler. While they do, at least they have a teammate they can look up to.

Jeff Jacobs’ senior season has been a success story. He’s 32-4 and is the top seed at 140 in this weekend’s Cardinal District tournament.

Jacobs is the rule’s exception on a Forest Park team that has struggled for much of the season. There are no juniors on the squad, and Jacobs is one of just four seniors, along with heavyweight Tom Carey, 145-pounder Peter Cardinale and 189-pounder Alex Frie.

The program, like the high school, is only two years old. That means a lot of growing pains and a lot of lumps to take before the pain of losing pays off. And that first taste of success rarely comes in full gulps; instead, it’s small samplings here and there.

“It’s tough, the first few years,” Jacobs said. “You look at the team, and they soon could be tops in the district. We have sophomores and freshmen who are hanging with seniors from other teams.”

Jacobs, as much as anyone, represents where the Bruins have been and where they have yet to go.

His sophomore season was a struggle, but things turned around in Jacobs’ junior season. He won 30 matches that year, and has exceeded the 30-win mark already this year. But it didn’t happen suddenly.

He worked at the sport throughout the offseason, fine tuning his technique. This past offseason, Jacobs said he worked on improving his takedowns.

The constant tweaking adds to Jacobs’ overall experience in the sport, which is greater than anyone else in the Bruins’ wrestling room.

“He’s probably wrestled more than the others in comparison to everyone else,” said Forest Park head coach Richard Hilleary. “The other thing is that he really works. He’s very dedicated to it. He wrestles in the offseason as well, and that keeps him involved.

“You have your recreational wrestlers that wrestle on a seasonal basis, and then there are those that really put the time in [to improve]. I think that’s true of any of the top kids in the area.”

“I’m expecting more from this season,” Jacobs said. “As much work as I did in the offseason, I knew I’d be a better wrestler.”

Now, the end of the tunnel is in view. Over the next three weeks, Jacobs will see how that work will pay off. His goal is a spot in the state finals, but if you believe in polls, even that would be a bit of an upset: virginiawrestling.com has Jacobs as the No. 6 wrestler in the state at 140.

Even if a trip to the state finals isn’t in the cards, Jacobs’ season is a lesson in the dividends of effort.

“He works hard, and I’ve seen a lot of kids do what he’s done through the years,” said Hilleary. “One of the things is that he works to get better. He’s done that. He’s made the commitment.

“A lot of kids expect to be good right away, and if they’re not, they quit. He wasn’t very successful at first, he had a losing record his sophomore year. I try to always encourage the kids. You have to pay your dues, but it pays off in the long run. Some kids want that instant gratification. Then there are some kids that can [be successful right away]. He had to work at it, and he developed a ritualistic work habit.”

Jacobs, it seems, is well on his way towards a glass full of success.

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