Delaware Valley junior wrestler Jason Henderson captured the 195-pound title at the Class 3A Northeast Regional tournament. Seeded first, he pinned Isaac Kassis of Dieruff in 5:03 in the quarterfinals; decisioned Nazareth’s Sonny Sasso, 15-8, in the semifinals; then decisioned Shane Quick from Pottsville in the final, 8-4, to qualify for the PIAA Championships in Hershey.
Receiving a first-round bye at states, Henderson (39-6) will face either Selinsgrove junior Ryan Aument (30-11) or Solanco senior Nick Yannutz (32-11) in the Round of 16.
Here is more from Henderson’s Athlete of the Week interview:
Other sports I play: Football
Favorite teams: Penn State football
Athletes I admire: Bo Nickal, because he’s a very good wrestler and a very good person in general. And Muhammad Ali, just because of his attitude.
Favorite food: Pizza
Superstitions and rituals: Before football games every Thursday night, as a team we go out to one of our buddies’ houses and eat pasta together.
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: Dwayne Johnson, Tom Brady, Cael Sanderson
How did getting a pin in your first match at regionals help boost your confidence? I knew it was going to be a tough tournament all around. But that pin really did boost my confidence because it made me think that I did belong there and for the rest of the tournament I’d be in good shape. During that match, I didn’t think I was wrestling my best. I think I could have been doing better. Things just weren’t going my way. But after I got the pin, I thought I’d be able to click better. What made you think you weren’t wrestling your best in that match? He was a kid whose style was different than mine. He was a shorter, stockier kid and I’m not the greatest against them. So it was difficult for me to wrestle him. But once I got into my groove, I did pretty good.
Talk about your win in the semifinals against Sonny Sasso: His brother is Sammy Sasso, Ohio State, No. 1 in the country. Although it wasn’t his brother, beating (Sonny) felt pretty good. Just the reputation he walks around with, being Sammy’s younger brother. Match-wise, I was nervous. But once I got the first takedown, my nerves kind of calmed down, I felt better through the match and I was more comfortable with myself. So I was all right.
You were leading late in the final against Quick and you anticipated his move late to secure the match: There was like 20 seconds left and I knew he was going to have to go for something desperate. So I just kind of laid back and when he shot on me, I ended up countering his attack and got two (points) for myself. It was a little bit of anticipation, but I kind of set him up for it, too. I knew if I did a certain thing, he would have went for that move and I could counter it. So that’s what I did.
The team finished fifth in the final standings. What did you think of your teammates’ performances? There were a couple who thought they should have done better and a couple of us who thought they could have done better. But at the end of the day, there are some pretty legit teams down there. To take fifth and only losing to those four teams (Nazareth, Bethlehem Catholic, Northampton, Easton), we felt pretty good. We weren’t too worried about the team standings. We knew we’re a team, we’re not going to fall apart, we’re going to help each other. That’s what happened. We all wrestled a great second day. Some of us came shorter of our goals than others, but that’s OK. There’s always another day. Coach said he thinks we did great.
You qualified for states individually last year. What did you learn that can help you this year? I was very nervous. But this year I think I’m a lot more prepared since I was down there last year. I know what to expect. It’s a whole different ball game, but I think I’m ready for it. Your goal at states this year? I want to come home with a medal. I have to have two great days of practice Monday and Tuesday. When I go down there Wednesday, I have to stay focused. If I do lose early on, I just have to keep my head, make sure I stay good mentally and keep going.
Post-graduation plans: I want to continue my athletic career in football. I plan to go D-I. I want to study either sports medicine or something along the lines of that. Sports have been my passion since I was a kid, so I kind of want to stay in that. I feel that would be the best fit for me.
During more than 30 years at The Times-Tribune, Scott has covered everything from high schools to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. His current beats include motor sports, local colleges, high school cross country and high school baseball. He also is a copy editor and page designer. His articles have won awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Eastern Motorsports Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Keystone Press. He also has been honored by the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and the Minor League Football Alliance. In 2016, he was presented the Media Service Award by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. A Long Island, New York, native, Scott graduated from the University of Scranton in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He lives in Peckville with his wife, Andrea, and daughters, Bridget and Emily. Contact him at email@example.com; 570-348-9100, x5109; or @swalshTT on Twitter