Wrestler of the Year: Adjustments pay great dividends for Pope’s Henson
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
March 26, 2014 04:00 AM | 2200 views | 1 1 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jake Henson<br>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
Jake Henson
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
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MARIETTA — There was something different about Jake Henson late in the season.

The Pope senior was still winning matches and performing well, but he just wasn’t quite himself.

“I got hurt halfway through the season,” Henson said. “I tore the meniscus in my right knee over Christmas and had surgery on it (the second week of March). I didn’t finish the season as myself. I got kind of nervous towards the end of the season because I wasn’t wrestling right. I had to adjust to that.”

The adjustment worked out well.

Henson defended his title at the Cobb County Invitational — winning at the event for the fourth straight time, which is a first for the Pope program. He also won his third straight area traditional championship and captured a state traditional title for the third consecutive season. It was his fourth finals appearance in four years.

“I actually don’t know if I took a single shot in all of January or February,” said Henson, who went 56-3 on the season. “Because I shoot with my right leg, I couldn’t take a drop step at all. The only thing it really limited me to do was bending it all the way.

“I couldn’t really take a shot at all. I just countered and got in locks the whole last two months. It was all about game planning. Anyone could have done it.”

Henson’s adjustment capped a stellar season for the four-year varsity starter, and he is the 2013-14 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Wrestler of the Year.

“It’s something I’ve looked up to from my own teammates the past couple of years,” Henson said about being named wrestler of the year. “Cameron (Munsey) won it two years ago, and Brooks (Climmons) won it last year, so I felt like it was kind of my turn to step into that this year. It’s very humbling, and I’m excited to be in a group with my friends like that. It’s a good experience.”

Having already won two state titles and appeared in three state finals, Henson entered his final season at Pope looking forward to the season instead of feeling any pressure to live up to lofty expectations.

“I was excited going into the season,” Henson said. “I wasn’t really nervous. I was just doing my thing. There wasn’t really any pressure. I was just really excited to wrestle in it.

“This is my first year ever coming into the season wrestling year-round and through the summer, so I felt like I had developed a lot more because of that. I was really looking forward to the season.”

Henson’s optimism stemmed from his decision to step away from baseball and concentrate on wrestling. His work over the spring and summer paid dividends during wrestling season and towards his future, with Henson earning a scholarship to wrestle at Virginia.

“I started the season last year playing baseball for Pope, but I quit about three or four weeks into it because nationals was over spring break,” Henson said. “I had to do that because I realized wrestling was the way to go to get me into college, so I had to give it up.

“All the spring and summer stuff I did was basically to get me recruited. That ended up working out. I miss (baseball), but you have to do what you have to do.”

With his college plans settled, Henson hopes to get back on the mat soon and wrestle at the Flow National tournament during spring break. He’s debating whether to wrestle for Team Georgia over the summer or head to Virginia to help out with summer camps.

Henson’s career at Pope has included three state team traditional titles as well as three state team dual championships.

Henson said he’s had the kind of high school career that leaves him with no regrets.

“(My career at Pope has) meant something really special to me,” he said. “I came in really lucky my freshman year to walk into a great team and program. We got the ball rolling to winning state for the first time and it’s been really special for me and (teammate Tyler Haskin), all four years, to get at least one state championship.

“It’s more so that we’re trying to leave a legacy for the little kids coming up. It’s meant a lot to be a part of such good teams. I can’t look back on it and think that we missed too much.”
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PjNovak
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March 26, 2014
Absolutely a great kid - well deserved!
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