2017-18 Single Match Tickets // 2017-18 Wrestling Schedule
As the Gopher Wrestling season nears, gophersports.com will bring in 2017 freshmen and get to know them as they begin their wrestling careers at the University of Minnesota.
This week we meet with Jake Allar, a freshman from Medina, Minn. who won is a two-time Minnesota state champ out of St. Michael-Albertville. His state titles came at two different weights: 152 as a junior and 170 as a senior. He won the 2016 junior national freestyle championship in Fargo, wrestling at 160 pounds.
Gophersports.com: Tell me about your journey coming to Minnesota.
Jake Allar: “Coming to Minnesota was a different path than most people realize in typical recruitment. I had originally signed my national letter of intent with another school, and I was committed to them. I had always wanted to be a Gopher, ever since I started wrestling. I had always had a love for Minnesota and wanted to be here, but I had a lot of adults in my life telling me that Minnesota might not be the best place for me in the moment. So this other school was probably the next best option at the time. Listening to them, I committed there but I wasn’t really happy because, like I said, Minnesota was where I wanted to be. Things kind of fell through, Minnesota surged, I had a feeling in my gut that they would. I then decided you know, I’m not going to go to a school that I don’t want to go to. I got everything squared away, then came into Coach Eggum’s office the next day and committed. And there’s no looking back after that, I’m really happy that I’m here.”
GS: Tell me about how you started wrestling.
JA: “I started wrestling when I was in kindergarten. My dad took a unique approach to it, I had no idea that folk style wrestling even existed, he just had me wrestle freestyle all of kindergarten and first grade. And then, the team that I was on dissolved so my dad gave me an ultimatum, he said we could do this on our own or if you don’t want to follow through with wrestling that that was fine. Me being a first grader, I was all about showing up to the youth practices and being around kids my age and that just made it more fun for me so after the youth team had dissolved, I opted not to wrestle. I didn’t wrestle my second and third grade year and actually asked my dad if I could play hockey because all the kids my age were starting to get into sports like that and hockey was a big one. My dad laughed and said why don’t we get back into wrestling. So, in fourth grade I was introduced to folk style, Greco, and freestyle wrestling, I had only thought that freestyle existed. So that was when I really fell in love with the sport again. My dad moved schools so I started a new youth program at Benilde-St. Margaret’s. We would go to the Gopher matches and go to the state tournament and watch that and just fell in love with it.”
GS: Why were you so interested in Minnesota as a kid?
JA: “As I got further along in the recruiting process, Tommy Thorn, he’s a friend, was already here. Mitch McKee, who is one of my best friends, went to high school with him at St. Michael, he was my training partner every day, he was here. I had all these connections at Minnesota that I didn’t have anywhere else. There was a strong network here that helped me get to be the level of wrestler that I was. So, why up and leave all those people when they’re the reason that I got to be as good as I am? Minnesota is home and home is where I want to be. In certain situations, it’s important to step out of the box a little but I didn’t think that was necessary, I think I can accomplish all I want to accomplish here. I actually had never been on the real campus before, but when I took my visit here and stepped out onto the mall, I just knew that this was where I wanted to be.”
GS: How would you describe your brand of wrestling?
JA: “My dad likes to call me the honey badger. I’m in your face, quick, but decisive, very powerful. I don’t like to wait and react I like to be the first one to get my hands on my opponent and move him around. I can attack you from way down low or up high with my throws. I’m a take the bull by the horns, in your face type of guy.”
GS: Tell me about some of your favorite wrestling memories.
JA: “My first state championship was probably my favorite wrestling moment. I didn’t win state until my junior year. I started out at Benilde and that kind of fell through. So, my dad decided to move over to St. Michael where we were already good family friends with the McKee’s and the Thorn’s and I just knew that I would get a lot better in that room. After my first year in that St. Michael’s room, I went on that summer and won Fargo, so I had definitely improved immensely. But it took a lot to get that first state title. I had made it to state every year since seventh grade, I went to Fargo and I won that my first year but it took me four times to finally get that state title. It was super special.”
GS: Tell me what goes into being a state champion.
JA: “It’s a lot of hours outside of the practice room. I’m constantly running, lifting weights, and honestly, it’s the people you surround yourself with. If you hang out with kids that don’t have the same ideals are you, it won’t help you become great. So, that’s where that moved really helped in that retrospect. I was around wrestlers that excelled at the highest levels. I think that’s the biggest thing, surrounding yourself with people who are on the same mission as you or who have been there.”
GS: You won states under two different weights. Tell me about that.
JA: “So, I started at 106 and I ended at 170. My first state title was at 152 and my senior state title was at 170. I had always cut a lot of weight. The only year I didn’t cut weight was in seventh grade. Senior year, I was weighing 168 which put me right at 170 and I was kind of top dog so I didn’t really need to cut weight, my dad, he was a lot bigger. He wrestled 160 his freshman year and I wrestled 113, I have never repeated a weight class in high school, I had always been growing. I found that I would improve more when I did grow because when you get into those heavier classes, a lot of those guys are athletic but some of them, they get slower the bigger they get. I was able to maintain my speed and agility, pure athleticism, I was able to keep that with me. At 152, I won 3-1 in my state finals. Obviously, I improved that summer but senior season I attacked my opponent in the state finals and won again. So, the weight change, that’s just part of the sport.”
GS: When did you realize that you were a good wrestler and that you should stick with it?
JA: “Probably my seventh grade year. In youth, I was always the kid who wasn’t as mentally strong as everyone else and would cry when I lose. I would always try to check my opponent out and see if he looked good. So in seventh grade, I’m wrestling varsity. So, I’m wrestling kids in high school when I’m in middle school. That’s when I think I grew the most. I was pretty successful in seventh grade, I would always worry if a kid was older than me, I would worry if he had more experience. Another reason seventh grade was an eye opener, I went 36-8, I’m not cutting any weight, I was pretty undersized. I made it to the state tournament and my first match was actually against Skyler Petry, who is now on the team here. I got pinned. I had to step it up and I realized that it didn’t matter if the kids were older than me but I just had to go out and compete, and compete well.”
GS: What goes through your mind during a match?
JA: “Mentally, when I step out onto the mat, I know that I have put just as much or more work into wrestling as my opponent. I go out and I respect everyone, but I don’t fear anyone. I know that I can get to my shots on anyone in the country and have pretty good defense. I know that if this guy is going to get around my legs, he’s going to have to work for it. So, just that mentality of being confident in your abilities. You know, they say 90% of the battle is in your own head. It’s all mental. It’s a chess match, so, when you’re out there, you just got to believe in yourself.”
GS: What do you do before matches to prepare?
JA: “I’ll put on some music when I’m warming up. I’ll play some music that’ll get my heart beating but as I’m about to step out, I’ll play music that’s calming. I can get worked up before matches still so listening to music that’s calming helps. And my Dad talks about the blinders, so when I get all worked up, you get tunnel vision, you’re not really seeing everything that’s in front of you. So just, staying back, and staying calm, calm heart rate. Music is huge for me.”
GS: What else are you interested in outside of wrestling?
JA: “I’m a social butterfly. I love interacting with people across the board. So, honestly, my favorite hobby is just meeting new people and interacting with them. But I also love being an introvert and lying in bed and watching Netflix. I like to fish, I love the outdoors, I love the city but I love the outdoors just as much. If I can get away, hiking, boating in Minnesota summers, that’s awesome.”
GS: What are your goals?
JA: “Four-time all-American national champion. The bar has been set. Jared Lawrence, who is a huge influence on me, is a four-time national champion here. So, the bar has been set already. I want to go down being known as one of the greatest Gopher wrestlers.”
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