When Jake Thompson was a sixth grader, he attended the Wyoming State Wrestling Tournament and while he was there, he watched Hayden Heap win his second consecutive state championship for the Braves and he was hooked.
“I decided right then I wanted to be a state champion,” he said in an interview with SVI.
Thompson worked hard with the accomplished coaches at Star Valley Middle School and Star Valley High School, becoming one of the state’s top wrestlers by his junior season. But things don’t always work out as planned.
“I was ranked and poised to win that state title but when the state semifinals rolled around I ended up losing. Man, that hurt. That hurt bad. I remember he hit a fireman’s carry and put me on my back. I battled back but came up a couple of points short. I bawled my eyes out and it hurt for a few months. I’d think back to that and luckily it forced me to work harder the next year.”
As a senior, Thompson had another batch of experience on the mat and in the weight room which paid off in the form of an individual state championship.
He then went on to serve a two-year LDS mission in the Portland area. When he returned, the wrestling room beckoned yet again, this time in the form of Western Wyoming Community College. After two years away, the collegiate wrestlers in the room battered him.
“Coming back from a mission it was hard at first,” he said. “I had to knock a lot of rust off so for the first few months I took more than my fair share of beatings in that wrestling room. Finally I’m starting to peak and wrestling really well and I’ve beaten a couple of ranked guys.”
Thompson’s season has started off with a flourish as he has defeated a pair of top-five wrestlers already. The Mustangs faced Northwest College where he defeated the #4 wrestlers in his weight class in the nation. The following week, WWCC hosted Colby College out of Kansas and Thompson defeated the #2 wrestler in the country.
Now on a roll, he will get the chance to compete once again in front of family and friends as the Star Valley Braves will duel the Rock Springs Tigers on December 13 on the WWCC floor at 5 p.m. At the conclusion of the duel, the Mustangs will host Grays Harbor Community College out of Aberdeen, Washington. Junior varsity matches between Star Valley and Rock Springs will begin at 4 p.m.
“That is something super special to me,” Thompson said of the upcoming opportunity. “The home crowd gets to come watch and for a minute I almost get to be a Brave again. I’ll be excited to go out and compete in front of the people I love the most.”
Fans of Star Valley Wrestling are invited to attend both duels on Wednesday, December 13, at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs. WWCC broadcasts their home duels and this event can also be viewed via their streaming location.