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Junior Senator grows into heavier wrestler

Andy Jackson moves up 3 weight classes, increases expectations

Madison junior Andy Jackson isn't cocky enough to predict he's going to win a weight title at the Class 4A state wrestling championships in February, but he's close.

Jackson, a district champion as a freshman and sophomore, finished fourth in a national tournament last summer and is a significant threat to break a 10-year title drought among Portland Interscholastic League wrestlers.

'Wrestling is a crazy sport where things go against you sometimes, so I won't say I'm definitely going to win,' Jackson says. 'But my expectations are a lot higher than they were last year because of what happened this summer.

'I'm ready for a great season.'

He'll get a strong test this weekend during a tournament at Clackamas High School.

Jackson, 16, is in the process of moving up to 145 pounds from 130, his weight class last year. His growing body created significant problems as a sophomore.

'I was 5-6 as a freshman, 5-8 -as a sophomore, and now I'm -6-foot,' says Jackson, who is the son of Madison football coach Tracy Jackson. 'Last year I was hiding my weight from my coaches every week, and losing a lot of weight made me tired by the time I had to wrestle.'

Jackson, a halfback on the football team, says he lost 18 pounds in the three days before last spring's state meet in order to make the 130-pound weight class, the weight he won at the PIL district meet. He lost the two matches he wrestled at the state meet.

'Both of the guys I lost to I beat earlier in the season,' Jackson says. 'That was disappointing.'

Moving up three weights is one of the reasons he's optimistic about this season. And he says his dedication to the sport increased significantly over the summer, when he qualified for the Cadet Junior National meet at Fargo, N.D., in Greco-Roman, a style that involves upper body throws. He finished fourth at 145 pounds from among 110 competitors at that weight.

One of his workout partners at the Peninsula Wrestling Club in North Portland is Kyle Bounds of Vancouver, Wash., who finished first at 145.

Jackson frequently works out with Madison senior Kyle Fogel, who placed eighth in Oregon at 152 pounds during the state high school meet.

'I have pretty good competition in practice,' Jackson says. 'That's helping me get better.'

Senior Grant Meyer, the defending district champion at 152, frequently practices against Jackson and says he's improved significantly from those practices.

'He's really good at being able to take down opponents, and he's good wrestling on top,' Meyer says. 'That's two-thirds of what you need to be a great wrestler.'

Jackson, who won the Capital Conference district title as a freshman at North Marion in Aurora, says he's working on improving his tactical ability and his general conditioning in order to make a run at state. The improved focus has made him a standout in the Madison wrestling room.

'He's just tough as nails,' says Madison coach Tom Sawyer, the former Jefferson coach who is in his first year at the helm of the Senators. 'You can just beat on him, and that doesn't affect him at all. He's going to be a strong competitor at the state level.'

A state title by Jackson would be significant for the league, which had at least one individual state champion every year from 1979 to '94. Last season only three PIL wrestlers even won a trophy Ñ awarded to eight wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes. All of the PIL individual trophies were for eighth place.

'There's some better individuals in the league this year,' Sawyer says. 'Grant has some tough kids, and Cleveland does, too. I think we'll do better at state than we have in a few years.'

Contact Cliff Pfenning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..