BRUSSELS - Southern Door will have three wrestlers competing at the state tournament, the most Eagles’ wrestlers to earn a spot since 1989. Leading the way is Jacob Englebert, who is 46-1 this season and ranked number one at 145 pounds in Division 2. It's this weekend's tournament that matters most.
Jacob Englebert has won a lot of matches and earned mamy titles, Friday he will wrestle in the state tournament for the very first time, an important milestone for the Southern Door senior.
"It's been the goal since day 1 of high school wrestling,” Jacob said. “It's going to be a relief to get finally get that one off my chest but it's going to be amazing.”
This amazing season almost didn't happen. Englebert suffered a concussion in practice before last season's regionals. It cost him the rest of the season and an entire quarter of the school year.
He didn’t wrestle again until July, nearly six months after being injured. The first time he returned to the mat, he wrestled a familiar and friendly opponent. His coach and father Jerry Englebert.
"It was funny we had open mat this summer and it was only he and I and he wanted to wrestle, I didn't want to. I didn't want to be the first one to wrestle him.” Eventually Jerry relented, “but you start going a little and then you're going live and you're going hard at it. I left that day feeling better about it like okay I think we're going to be alright. But that was in July so that was a long time.”
Jacob said he went a little stir crazy being forced to be inactive but it did make him appreciate how much the sport means to him. "It definitely gave me a different perspective for me as well as my teammates. The season you're on right now could be your last one you never know what's going to happen so go out there and give it all you've got."
For Jerry, nothing could prepare him for the experience of watching his son and wrestler deal with these type of issues.
"You hear a lot about concussions but until you actually deal with it, it's different, learned a lot that way as a coach,” Jerry said. Jerry is also a parent though, “as a parent at first you're thinking it's horrible he's going to miss the season but then all the sudden you realize I just want my kid back the way he was before."
His kid is back and better than ever, peaking, as the state tournament approaches. Englebert defeated then number one ranked Dewey Krueger of Oconto Falls in the sectional finals, a win that elevated him to first in the state rankings.
"He's been wrestling really great, hitting all his stuff. He's been wrestling really smooth and he's ready," Coach Englebert said.
Not only does a state title consume Jacob’s waking hours but those when he's asleep as well.
"I've dreamt about it I've thought about it all the time. I can't focus at all. All I'm thinking about is wrestling," Jacob said. "I don't think I've lost in my dreams yet. I'm undefeated there."
This weekend Englebert has a chance to make his reality even sweeter than those dreams.