Mayo wrestler Hanson chasing improvement
Rochester Mayo's Jake Hanson was not happy at the end of last year's Class AAA state wrestling tournament.
It was tough for Hanson to be overly disappointed, though. After all, he did have a medal around his neck.
But regardless of his newly acquired hardware, Hanson had aspirations of finding a better spot on the podium. And he most definitely wasn't satisfied with his performance during a couple of matches at Xcel Energy Center.
Hanson, who will begin his junior season Saturday during the Rochester Invitational at Mayo High School, used his state-tournament disappointment as motivation this offseason. And he entered the Mayo wrestling room looking better than ever.
"Yeah, you could see from Day 1 this year that he's physically stronger, and yet he's just as quick," Mayo coach Art Trimble said. "His maturity level has improved, and I think the biggest thing is his mat sense. He doesn't make many mistakes out there."
After his sixth-place finish at state, Hanson earned the No. 6 spot in the Class AAA preseason state rankings at 138 pounds. Hanson said he plans to start the year at 145 but will eventually work down to 138, likely when the two-pound allowance kicks in after the holiday break.
Hanson said it won't be a difficult weight cut for him, and that's important. He may have been cutting a bit too much weight last season, and the Mayo coaching staff felt it may have slowed down their standout.
"I kind of felt weak at times," Hanson said. "I won't say it was too bad. I'd say ninth-grade year was much worse."
Trimble believes Hanson, who is looking for his third consecutive trip to state, has a chance to do something special. He believes his team leader — Hanson is in his second year as team captain — can jump into elite company.
"He's a top-tier wrestler, I really believe that," Trimble said. "I expect him to make a push for that top level, and I really think a top-3 finish at state is possible for him."
On the feet, few are better than Hanson. There's nobody in the Mayo room who can take Hanson down, and Trimble said scoring points off Hanson won't be easy this season.
Since there's nobody in the Mayo room to truly push Hanson, he's spent much of his practice time working with the coaching staff.
Hanson said that's not a problem.
"No, when we go live, I go with a few of the coaches, and it's always a battle," Hanson said. "They can push me."
That extra push has paid off. "He's just dominant on his feet," Trimble said. "He never gets in bad positions. He's smart and uses his body well. He did have a little trouble on bottom last year, but that's what he's been working on. Jake's ready to go now."
Trimble also has seen Hanson, who's shown a great deal of potential all the way through the youth program, develop into a fine team leader. He's not a rah-rah type kid, Trimble said. But Hanson leads by example.
That will be particularly important this season; the Spartans are once again a young team, with only two seniors on the roster.
" I like the leadership role; I'm more quiet, but I can be loud when it's needed," Hanson said.
Hanson hopes to lead as many of his teammates as possible to the Class AAA state meet.
"Yeah, I'm hoping to get back, and I think top three in the state is a good goal," Hanson said. "I definitely won't be as nervous up there this year if I go. I'm pretty motivated to get back there and perform how I know I can."