Despite great postseason run, Dover-Eyota's Duellman still haunted by last year's state semifinals
The Dover-Eyota senior became the team's captain clutch down the stretch, punching the Eagles ticket to the state tournament in thrilling fashion. Yet, the match he lost is fueling him this year.
EYOTA — Last year, Jackson Duellman had a postseason run that many high school wrestlers dream about.
He blew the roof off of Mayo Civic Center when he used his quickness to overcome the larger Caden Nolte of Chatfield by an 11-7 decision in the deciding match of the Section 1A team championship dual.
It sent the fourth-seeded Eagles to the program’s first state tournament since 2007 and just their third overall.
The following weekend, he became the Section 1A 220-pound individual champion, punching his ticket to the individual state meet as well.
He kept the momentum going at Xcel Energy Center, where he once again found himself in a clutch moment.
Duellman delivered again, securing a pin at heavyweight to send the unseeded Eagles into the state semifinals with a 30-26 against No. 2-seeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.
All those moments, Duellman admits, are great. But they aren’t the ones he has been thinking about for the past few months.
No, instead that honor goes to be consumed by last year's Class A team state semifinal dual.
That’s where once again, Duellman found himself with the weight of the dual on his shoulders.
With the Eagles leading 33-28 entering the final two matches, he had a chance to end it with four points or at least put D-E in the driver’s seat entering heavyweight.
Yet, with 10 seconds left and tied at 2-2, Duellman was given a stalling penalty. Royalton/Upsala's Bryce Holm walked away with a 3-2 win. R/U would eventually win the semifinal 34-33 after securing three more points in the heavyweight bout.
Duellman's match still haunts him to this day.
“I think about that one all the time actually. It’s really — I’m very tough on myself about it,” Duellman said. “I know I can’t really help it, but I don’t know. It affected me for the next dual.”
Duellman fell in his match during the third-place dual and it turned out that semifinal loss would also affect him the next day at the individual state tournament.
Duellman dropped his first and only match in the individual portion, falling once again to Holm.
Just like that, after three weeks of being on top, Duellman’s season was over.
“The loss just really knocked me off my game,” Duellman said. “I just can't let something like that happen again.”
That was Duellman’s mission in the offseason.
He trained harder than ever before, pushing himself both in the weight room and with his cardio. He took part in a camp at the well-respected Thorn Wrestling in Odin, Minn., and could be found often in the room at the Guerrilla Wrestling Club in Rochester.
His confidence returned and once again, he is a force on the mat. Even after making the bump up to heavyweight this year, Duellman has the strength to get the job done against bigger opponents.
“I don’t want to toot my own horn,” Duellman said with a laugh. “But I feel I am much stronger than most of my opponents, even though I’m like 40-50 pounds lighter than them.”
Duellman matches that impressive strength with equally impressive quickness.
His feet and his shots are quick-triggered, allowing him to wear out his bigger opponents before utilizing his great strength. It seems he's put it all together this season.
The first true sign of that came in early January at The Clash National Duals in La Crosse, Wis.
Duellman was stellar, knocking off Kamaha’o Grace of Staley, Mo. — a state-title contender — and then 6-foot-8 Oleg Simakov of Hersey, Ill. Duellman then firmly planted his status as a state-title contender just about two weeks ago at the Dave Erickson HOF Invitational, defeating the then-No. 1 ranked heavyweight in Class A, Makota Misgen of New Richland/Hartland/Ellendale/Geneva. Duellman walked away with a 3-1 win against Misgen, who also wrestles at Guerrilla and was the Class A state runner-up at heavyweight a year ago.
The victory moved Duellman to the top spot in the rankings.
“Most of the time, I try to think that rankings don’t really matter much. You have to prove it on the mat,” Duellman said. “But I mean, it’s very cool. But I still have a lot to prove. I need to make sure I am the number one guy.”
He’s one of three Eagles ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes, joining fellow seniors Brodie Kellen (152) and defending-state champion Gavin Gust (160).
Those seniors are going to leave a legacy both on and off the mat that will be felt for years to come. It's something they take pride in.
"It's pretty cool," Duellman said. "Just showing kids the right way to do stuff. How things should look after we leave. It's fun being that role model."