Flashback: Jantzen grabs hold of record fourth NY title

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Jesse Jantzen posed with his many accolades after winning his fourth state title in March 2000.

The following article appeared in The News-Review on March 9, 2000, after Shoreham-Wading River High School senior Jesse Jantzen became the first wrestler to win four New York State championships:

Jesse just did it.

The final act to the legend that is Jesse Jantzen’s high school wrestling career will go down as a fitting one. With his characteristic dominance on the mat, the Shoreham-Wading River senior rolled into history Saturday night, becoming New York State’s first four-time wrestling champion.

Jantzen achieved the feat by downing Ben Morczek of South Lewis by technical fall 2 minutes 8 seconds into the 145-pound final of the state championships at the Onondaga War Memorial in Syracuse. The victory extended Jantzen’s state record win streak to 157 and brought his six-year career record to 215-3.

Jantzen, in total control, methodically built a 12-1 first-period lead over Morczek before finishing the job. An appreciative capacity crowd of 7,113 erupted into cheers as Jantzen leaped into the arms of his coach, Paul Jendrewski, and then hugged his father, Don, Shoreham’s assistant coach.

The crowd chanted, “Jesse! Jesse!” and gave the four-time champ a two-minute standing ovation.

“It was awesome,” Jendrewski said. “It was a moment to be cherished.”

Later, Jantzen was presented with the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award for the second year in a row. He had made it an easy choice, recording three first-period pins in a total time of 2:48.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Jantzen, who is 40-0 this season, with all but one of those wins coming by a pin or technical fall. “I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t make any mistakes and wrestled as well as I could. I didn’t want to go out with any regrets.”

There were none for the winningest wrestler in Long Island history, who will graduate with six Suffolk County and six league crowns to go with his state titles. In a tournament where every competitor is a sectional champion, Jantzen was as dominant as ever, putting his perfected crab-ride move to good use.

Jendrewski believes Jantzen leaves a legacy that will be unmatched, calling him the greatest wrestler in state history “without question.” The coach said, “He’s the standard now by which every kid in New York State will be judged.”

No doubt, Jantzen leaves a lasting impression. The wrestler, whose last loss came in a state semifinal on March 2, 1996, when he was an eighth-grader, rolled over his opposition with ease. Figuring the quicker he got off the mat, the happier he would be, Jantzen wasted little time. He pinned his first-round opponent, Massimo Giugliano of Sewanhaka, in 1:00. Jantzen followed that up by pinning Leonard Snyder of Au Sable Valley 47 seconds into their quarterfinal, and then Zach Taber of LaSalle at 1:01 of their semifinal.

“He just knocked them off,” Jendrewski said. “He went in there wanting to show people why the [winning] streak was alive and well. … To me, it was like almost a whole different level than that of the other kids who were participating in this thing. He went out and did his thing.”

With family, friends and plenty of others rooting for him from the stands, Jantzen acknowledged that he felt butterflies. “There was a lot riding on this,” he said.

How did he feel about his performance?

“I think I wrestled well. I did everything I could have done,” Jantzen said. “I guess I had a good tournament and was ready to go.”

In recognition of the milestone, Shoreham-Wading River High School honored Jantzen on Tuesday, which was declared “Jesse Jantzen Day.” Speaking before an assembly of students in the school auditorium, principal Joe Hayward told Jantzen, “You are our hero and our champion.”

The Jantzen story overshadowed the fact that the Suffolk team won the team title for the 12th time, more than any other section.

Jantzen’s high school wrestling career hasn’t officially ended. He will join the top seniors in the country for a national tournament in Pittsburgh March 23-25. From there, Jantzen will prepare to take his talents to college. He said he is leaning toward attending Harvard University, although he is also considering Hofstra University.

“It’s mind-boggling what he’s doing,” Jendrewski said. “What a way to end it.”

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