The latest Athlete of the Week is the only wrestler from the city of Waterloo who qualified for the state wrestling tournament, Columbus High School Junior Charlie Jones.
Jones, not only qualified, he finished first.
"It's exhilarating knowing that you won a state championship," Jones said.
It was a shocking comeback. The Columbus junior had already tallied four losses by mid-December, but after he picked up his fifth, something changed.
"I thought it clicked, you know, that I probably shouldn't be losing this bad, ‘cause I'm better than that," Jones said.
That change resulted in 29 straight victories including one at the WaMac Conference Championships that made a believer out of Head Coach Paul Rea.
"Charlie went out, got after it, punished him a little bit [and] pinned him in the first period," Rea said. "After the match, he came over, and I said, 'If you wrestle like that all year, I'm going to be placing a gold medal around your neck in Des Moines.'"
After dropping the second ranked 120 pounder in the state quarters, Jones took out the number one wrestler in the semis, and an early takedown against Clarion-Goldfield's Aaron Anderson was just a preview of what was to come.
"Once I got the first takedown, I really got confident," Jones said.
"It's really enjoyable as a coach to see an athlete of yours get on a roll and just kind of feel like he's unstoppable," Rea said. "That's what I felt like with Charlie."
The final result, an 8 to 2 win for someone that began his career as the smallest athlete on the Blessed Sacrament Elementary wrestling team. Charlie Jones, unranked through-out much of the season, was a state champ.
The first for Columbus since J.J. Krutsinger in 2006, and as a reminder to future Sailor's, Jones' state tournament wristband now hangs on the wall, next to all the other Columbus greats.
"It means a lot. You get to rep' Columbus, and show them what our work ethic is like," Jones said.
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