Athlete of the Week: Austin Jenkins
© Culpeper Times
Austin Jenkins has taken to the wrestling mat 161 times in his career with Eastern View High School. He has left the mat a winner 143 times.
Jenkins, just a junior, passed the 100 victory mark last year, a record that many senior wrestlers have not reached when they finish their high school careers.
With five victories, three by pins, in the David Brown Memorial Tournament last weekend, Jenkins is just seven wins away from 150. He is 30-2 this year with 19 of the wins by pins as he has helped the Cyclones to a 30-2 mark.
For his efforts Jenkins was selected as the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the middleweight division (138 to170 pounds) at the tournament and he is also the Culpeper Times choice for “Athlete of the Week.”
“There are probably only two or three dozen kids in the whole state at all the weight classes combined who have won 200 matches in high school,” said Eddie Jenkins, an EVHS assistant coach and Austin's father. “He has a good chance to do that.”
Austin has typically wrestled at 138 pounds, but his year has been bumped up to 145 pounds a lot due to injuries in the higher weights.
“It feels fine (wrestling 145 pounds), “Austin said. “I'll do whatever most benefits the team. If I wrestle up, that fills a spot and we don't have to give up a weight (to forfeit).”
Austin said there are quite a few members of his family who wrestled so he comes by it naturally.
“But I also watched the WWE (professional wrestling league) on TV and said, 'what the heck, I'll go out for wrestling.'”
While Eddie Jenkins is justifiably proud of his son's accomplishments, he says being one of his coaches has its downsides, too.
“He's probably under more pressure than the other kids having his father as a coach,” said Eddie. “I not only expect him to be successful, but also to be a role model on and off the mat.”
Austin agreed, but also sees an up side.
“My dad can help me at home as well as inside the (wrestling) room,” he said. “I guess the one disadvantage would be that if I don't wrestle well I hear about it not only in the room, but also at home.”
Eddie said that Austin has been wrestling since he was about 7 years old.
“He came up with the Cobras and then he wrestled at Floyd T. Binns Middle School,” said Eddie. “He was 38-0 at Binns and is the only wrestler ever who was undefeated during his time there.
“He has a 3.2 grade point average in school and his never been in any trouble.”
Austin played on the defensive line for the Cyclone football team this fall, despite the lack of bulk that is typical with defensive linemen.
“My defensive line coach wrestled in high school and he said some of my wrestling moves could come in handy in football,” Austin said.
Austin said he admires former Iowa State University standout and 1972 Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable.
“I have watched a lot of his videos and he has inspired me to go as far as I can,” Austin said. “I almost got to meet him once, but a family issue came up for him.”
Although committing to a college is still in the future, Austin said some coaches have already shown an interest in him wrestling at the next level.
“I'm actually looking at a couple of schools,” he said. “I got a letter from Bucknell and I've looked at a couple of Division II schools.”
Austin lists math as his favorite school subject, “although I get pretty good grades overall.”
In his spare time, Austin continues to be involved at EVHS.
“I like being at the school and watching the other teams play,” he said. “And I like hanging out with my friends.”
Austin said the unity of this year's team is strong.
“We are more like a family, not just individuals who want to do well,” he said.
NOTE: Culpeper County High School coach Dylan Dwyer nominated senior David Counts.
“He wrestles at 132 pounds and he has a lot of natural talent,” said Dwyer. “He's very technically sound.
“Unfortunately he had appendicitis last year and couldn't wrestle much and this year he began the season with an injury. He has worked very hard to get back into wrestling shape and although he's only 6-4 he deserves to be recognized.”
Counts said three of his four losses have come to the same opponent.
“I've wrestled him three times and lost by a point to him each time,” he said.
Counts said he enjoys the challenge of wrestling being an individual sport.
“It's a team as far as scoring, but it's one-on-one out there,” he said. “You can't blame anybody else for mistakes. It's just you and someone else. At the end of the day it's who I lost to or who I beat.”
Counts said he has been wrestling about eight years.
“My friend Justin Gillespie and I just decided to wrestle in fifth grade and I've been at it ever since,” he said.
Tall for a wrestler at 5-foot-11, Counts said his height is helpful.
“Everybody I wrestle seems like a foot shorter than me,” he said. “I can use my height to my advantage.
British Literature and weightlifting are the two classes Counts said he most enjoys this year.
He is considering wrestling in college, but he is also looking at joining the military.
“My mother and father are both in the Navy, so that is a big option,” he said.