Senior Jake Nikkila has been a solid part of an improving wrestling program Patterson Mill.
Nikkila, son of Pat and Deb Nikkila, has battled through injuries to find his way back onto the mat for his final season. He was an Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference champion as a junior last season at 126 pounds, after finishing as a runner-up in both his freshman and sophomore years at the same weight.
Nikkila, who has 123 wins in high school, has also placed in the top four in three region tournaments and finished sixth in the Class 1A-2A state tournament last year. He has a cumulative 3.9 GPA. His sister, Mikaela, is a freshman at Patterson Mill.
Why did you choose wrestling and who most influenced your decision?
I started wrestling back in fifth grade and it was one of those deals that my dad said he played football and wrestled. I really wasn't interested in playing football. As for wrestling, I said "why not?" I tried it and after two practices, I basically fell in love with it.
What has wrestling done for you?
Honestly, more than anything, it's given me a drive. It's not an easy sport, it was something you had to work at. It taught me the moral codes to work hard and once you work hard, things will start coming through.
What is your greatest accomplishment in the sport of wrestling?
I've wrestled in a lot of tournaments at this point, so to say there's one moment that I was most proud of, it's hard to say. I definitely enjoyed, after two years of losing, winning the county title last year. What I'm most proud of is the fact that I pushed through everything and I'm still here fighting.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
Every year is disappointing in a sense of, you get to states and what's the goal? Win states. Nothing short of that. Every year I don't hit my goal, but at same time, I've done everything in my power to put myself in position to be sucessful. Looking back, I can honestly say, I've really given forth everything towards this sport, so to be disappointed? What I've worked for, it's not realistic. Frustrated, but not disappointed.
Why would you encourage others, especially younger kids, to get involved in wrestling?
Back to what I said earlier, I was a bit of a dud before wrestling. I didn't really do anything. I just hung out, played video games, played outside ... whatever fifth grade kids do. It just kind of gives you a drive, to do something, to work toward something. Just the accomplishment of once you get there or just the satisfaction of knowing that you did what you could to get there. It doesn't apply just to wrestling, it could apply to a career.
What's your future plans in wrestling and out?
I definitely want to wrestle in college, but with injuries, it was a stretch to get a doctor to agree to one more year after last year. I'm hoping to get into the University of Washington to study bio-medical engineering. Either there or Clemson (where's he already been accepted), they're both fantastic schools. Ultimately, I definitely want to go back to coach one day. Maybe not for high school, I like kids. If it's for junior league or high school, whatver it might be, volunteering. I can get back on the mat even if I can't really wrestle.
What are your other interests away from the mat?
I really say wrestling's my passion. This morning we had a late start, so what did I do? I went downstairs, we have an elliptical at home, so I went on the elliptical and I lifted before school started. I like any kind of fitness, lifting, running, crossfit, even down to yoga. Anything just fitness related, I really love that. When I'm not on the mat, I'm studying.