Delaware Valley senior Jason Henderson captured the 215-pound title at the District 2 Class 3A Championships. In the process, he earned his 100th career win in the final, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler and helped the Warriors take the team title with 180.5 points.
Henderson pinned Cole Kakalecik of Crestwood in 1:15 in the quarterfinals and Scranton’s Sean Cordaro in 2:10 in the semifinals. In the final, he faced Seth Hunsinger from Hazleton Area, who is ranked sixth in the state in the weight class. Henderson, who is ranked fourth, won with an 8-2 decision to reach his career milestone 100th.
Here is more from Henderson’s Athlete of the Week interview:
Other sports I play: Football. I might do track in the spring.
Favorite teams: Philadelphia Eagles
Athletes I admire: Bo Nickal from Penn State. He’s been through a lot of adversity throughout his career and he always ends up coming out on top.
That just shows what hard work and determination can do at the college level and further.
Favorite food: Sushi
Superstitions and rituals: I just talk to myself, try to calm myself down if I’m really nervous. But nothing really crazy.
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski
Being ranked fourth in the state and Hunsinger being ranked sixth, did you have a feeling your paths would cross at districts? Definitely. You obviously can’t overlook anybody on your side of the bracket. But things going the way they should have, I kind of figured it would be me and him in the finals.
Describe the match: I got a takedown early and let him up. I wasn’t very comfortable there, I was up by one. Then I got a takedown to his back and ended up getting three back points off it, so I was up, 7-1, at that point. That’s where I started to get really comfortable. Obviously I knew it wasn’t over, but I was comfortable there so I didn’t panic. At that point, do you become defensive to preserve the lead or are you still going on the offensive? It depends where I’m at in the match. Second period, I was just kind of laying low. I couldn’t stop and go automatic defense because I would have been hit with stalling. So if I had something there, I knew I would have to go for it. But once 1:30, one minute left in the third period came around, I just tried to be the smarter wrestler and not get into a throwing match, put myself in a bad position that could get me caught and end up getting pinned or have him get a big move and end up losing.
Did you feel any pressure going for your 100th career win, especially in the early rounds? Honestly, I didn’t feel the pressure until my second match, which was my 99th win. After the match, I pinned the kid and got really excited because I knew I needed one more. Once I won, I realized, Wow, that was a lot of pressure. I could feel it all come off me.
Is it a relief to get the 100th win out of the way before regionals? Absolutely. Now that I have it, there’s a lot of weight off my shoulders. I can calm down. It would have stunk if I missed it. If I didn’t get it, I might not get that opportunity to get that next win. You never know what’s going to happen at any point this season.
How about winning the team title and the performance of your teammates? I’m very proud of this team. With everything we’ve had to face this year — all the adversity with COVID — we were able to stick together and not get discouraged with how things were going at any point. It’s no fun, you’re getting ready for practice and you get a call from your coach that we’re shut down. That takes a toll on a team and an individual. So for all of us to make it through the shutdown, making sure we’re all staying in shape and ready to go when we are able to wrestle again, my team did a great job with that. They never gave up on themselves and each other and that’s the biggest thing about being a team to me. A team is like a brotherhood and brothers don’t give up on each other. For the team to stick together through everything and come out with a win against a very tough Abington Heights team, we knew it was going to be a close one and it’s very special.
Looking ahead to regionals, what do you feel you have to do to be successful? My gameplan this week is to have another good week of practice. I’m not going to try to think too much about it. Obviously, I’m going to look to see who my opponents might be and if I know how they wrestle I might work on a couple things here and there. But ultimately, I feel if I just go out and wrestle my match and do what I know how to do, I think I should be all right.
What has it been like wearing a mask while wrestling? In the beginning, because it’s something we didn’t have to do before, it was confusing and frustrating. But once you get into action, you realize what’s more important: sitting out because you don’t want to wear a mask or wrestling and getting everything done, especially seniors like me. You just kind of block it out, go out and do it and try to make it as normal as possible for yourself.
After graduation, you are going to Old Dominion University for football: With COVID, it was very hard to make a decision because I wasn’t able to go on official or unofficial visits. Fortunately for me, my junior year I was able to get invited to a couple of Penn State games I was able to meet Ricky Rahne, who was offensive coordinator at Penn State, and a couple of the other staff members who went with coach Rahne now at Old Dominion. Plus, I’ve gone to Virginia Beach multiple times to wrestle in national offseason tournaments, so I feel comfortable there and enjoy it there. I felt very comfortable with the coaches and felt I could be myself. Things just fell into place. It felt like Old Dominion was the best decision for me and my family. Do you know what major? Exercise science. My main goal is to hopefully be an athletic trainer one day.
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