EATON RAPIDS – Jaedin Sklapsky has been on a four-year mission to be mentioned among the country’s top high school wrestlers.
The Eaton Rapids senior solidified himself as one of Michigan’s best by capturing the 135-pound Division 2 individual state championship in early March. And by the end of the month, he had another opportunity to expand his brand.
Sklapsky participated in the National High School Coaches Association High School Nationals on March 27-29 in Virginia Beach, Va., and placed second in the 138-pound weight class. The NHSCA Nationals is open to any Michigan prep wrestler who placed top-2 in states during their career.
“My biggest goal was to come out and be an All-American,” said Sklapsky, who became the Greyhounds’ first All-American by reaching the finals. “I wanted to prove that I belong with the top kids in the nation.”
After capturing his first state championship, Sklapsky took a week off and then started preparing for the national tournament. His coach, Joe Ray Barry, and fellow Eaton Rapids teammates helped him train for the two weeks leading up to the event.
Barry could sense Sklapsky’s excitement. It was the moment he had been waiting for his entire career.
“He was super hungry,” Barry said. “He’s always sought out the toughest competition since he’s been with us. His first two years he lost to Zac Hall (St. Johns native who wrestles at the University of Michigan) and last year he was a runner-up to Austin Thompson (Marysville).
“He was hungry to prove he could do it. He’s been working hard.”
The success for Sklapsky proved he could compete with the best and showed the more than 350 college coaches in attendance his ability.
Barry said Sklapsky received several calls from Division I programs following the tournament.
“It was a confidence booster,” Sklapsky said. “It opened my eyes up and showed me that I can compete with the best and hold my own against anyone.”
Sklapsky was a cornerstone of the revivial of the Eaton Rapids wrestling program and Barry believes his success is part of a starting point for a new era.
“It sets the bar a little higher for our younger kids,” Barry said. “It gives them something to shoot for other than a state title.
“To have an All-American not just from Michigan, but your hometown is great to see. And it couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”