Last year, Manchester senior Jacob Hanzel got his first taste of competing at the state wrestling tournament. The results were disappointing, but the experience of competing in Columbus has driven Hanzel during a record-setting senior season.
Last year, Manchester senior Jacob Hanzel got his first taste of competing at the state wrestling tournament.
The results were disappointing, but the experience of competing in Columbus has driven Hanzel during a record-setting senior season. As he pursues a return trip to Columbus, he continues to compile wins. He notched his 100th career victory last month at the Bill Dies Memorial tournament in spectacular fashion, pinning Elyria's Kevin Cough to win the heavyweight title.
"It was an exciting win, " Hanzel said. "It was a goal of mine, winning the Dies, since I was a freshman."
As he chases another state tournament berth, Hanzel is motivated by last season's disappointment.
"One of the goals I set before the season was getting back to Columbus and winning a state title," said Hanzel, who went 1-2 in Columbus last season. "Last year was a good experience for me being down their even though I didn't do as well as I liked. I was big-eyed and never wrestled in an atmosphere like that, and it really showed."
LIKE A TRUCK
Hanzel has put together a solid senior season, compiling an 21-3 record. He won the J.C. Gorman tournament in Mansfield and took sixth place at the Brecksville Holiday Invitational.
"Jacob is coming on strong for us," first-year head coach Josh Cintron said. "I believe that he still hasn't wrestled his best match this year. He has been working with assistant coach Nick Hooper, and it has been helping him become a better wrestler."
Cintron noted that one of Hanzel's wins at the Bill Dies tournament was against a wrestler he lost to a few weeks earlier. Continued improvement from a returning state qualifier is music to Cintron's ears, as is Hanzel's willingness to help out in any way he can.
"He is one of my go-to guys and I know I can always count on him whether it's moving mats to the gym or getting the team six points in a dual," Cintron said. "As I coach, I am very demanding and Jacob is the type of wrestler that will go above and beyond. Hard workers are hard to come by in this generation, but Jacob takes pride in being one of the few willing to get his hands dirty to reap the rewards."
Hanzel is happy with the progress he has made after getting a late start to his season because of the football team's run to the Division IV state semifinals. He has also taken valuable lessons from the few setbacks he's had this season.
"I feel that I'm getting there. I lost a few matches, but I was never was going for an undefeated record. I'm going to take those losses and learn from them," Hanzel said.
Hanzel, who was nicknamed Tonka by his football coaches because he hits like a truck, developed his wrestling roots early in life. He started wrestling at the age of 4 and has always loved hanging around the mats. He wrestled in the Ellet Youth Wrestling program until fourth grade before moving over to Manchester.
He credits his father, his brother Clayton and his friend Nick Cooper as his biggest influences and said Cintron has made a significant impact on both his wrestling career and the program.
"Coach (Cintron) has been a great addition to our program," Hanzel said. "We have some tough practices, but no-one complains. If he stays, he should have a lot of success."
Hanzel is still weighing his next move and has offers to play football or wrestle at the college level. He envisions himself eventually filling the same role that men such as Cintron and Manchester football coach Jim France have occupied in his life, coaching and teaching the next generation.