JOHNSTOWN – Jake Adkins has seen it all during his time at Northridge.
With months turning into weeks and soon turning into days left in his career, nothing is going to catch him by surprise. Adkins, a two-time state placer, appears primed for a run to a third chance to walk up the podium at Ohio State.
“I feel a lot more confident heading into the postseason because I am a little bit more battle-tested now,” he said. “I have a lot of wrestling under my belt, and I am really determined to go out and give it my best shot for my last try.”
Adkins will put a nearly spotless record on the line Saturday when he and the Vikings compete in the Licking County League tournament at Licking Valley. Adkins is a defending LCL champion, and he also won the league tournament as a sophomore.
Nothing will intimidate Adkins, who now is wrestling at 113 pounds after spending his first three seasons at 106, because he has seen the best of the best. His two losses this season are to state title contenders in higher divisions from Central Crossing and St. Paris Graham.
“I have seen a calmer Jake this year,” coach Eric Potts said. “It has been nice to see how relaxed he is. I think he has put a lot less pressure on himself. Maybe he is just more mature and hiding it better. I thought his freshman year he seemed very excited about the postseason, and his sophomore and junior years he seemed like he had a lot of pressure on himself to go down to state and place higher year after year.”
Adkins has beaten a number of top competitors, too, but he admitted not one sticks out. He has enjoyed the chance to test himself against a schedule that has had Northridge all across Ohio, stretching from the Ohio River in East Liverpool to Lake Erie in Oregon.
“The way that I have been able to perhaps hold my composure and wrestle consistently throughout the season has really proved that I will be able to go into this postseason without fear,” said Adkins, who will wrestle next season at Princeton.
The 113-pound class should be one of the most competitive of Saturday’s tournament. Watkins Memorial’s Alex Lieb and Valley’s Addison Fogle recently have had a pair of knock-down, drag-out battles as Lieb narrowly won both, and Lakewood’s Ray Huber also has had a strong season.
Adkins, however, will be tough to beat as he wrestles with a calm that possibly has come from a new role on the team. In past years, he was one of the young pups, attempting to pull his weight as the Vikings are just two years removed from a county title and a state semifinal appearance.
This year, Adkins is the only senior on a smaller team. He particularly has enjoyed taking freshman Forest Belli, who wrestles at 120, under his wing.
“I have had a little bit more pressure to be a role model because that is not really distributed on the other teammates,” Adkins said. “We lift at Old School Gym in Pataskala three times a week. We stay after practice an extra 10 to 15 minutes just to drill takedowns. We are definitely working hard together, and I am hoping I am making him better as he is doing the same for me.”
Training with Belli has given a chance for Adkins to mold and shape a wrestler who still has a long career in front of him. It has allowed him to take the focus off the sudden end he soon will reach.
Adkins is not looking too far ahead, and Potts is hesitant to do so as well. Both, however, know the medals Adkins owns say eighth and fourth places. They know there is more left to accomplish.
“I don’t want to say the wrong thing and put pressure on him he doesn’t need,” Potts said. “I am sure that is where his mind is at though.”
If you go
•What Licking County League tournament
•When 10 a.m. Saturday
•Where Licking Valley High School
•Last year Granville edged Utica by one point to win the team title.