His first wrestling match came in 7th grade… and by Jacob Boumans’ own account… it didn’t go well. The son of a former US Olympic trial wrestler, Boumans took some time off… and then he started his own climb.
Jacob says, “Just working hard, it all paid off at the end, taking second, standing above a majority of the state; it felt good.”
Second is still disappointing for the senior, but second is better than all but one in the state of Illinois in the 170 pound weight class. And his trip to the IHSA state final bout put him in rare air, “I know for a while we did have any placers or qualifiers but it feels good to go down in Neuqua history.”
Assistant Coach Matt Collum made his own trip in 2004 and now routinely shares the mat with his protégé. Talking about Collums, Boumans says, “He was my practice partner almost everyday, so he helps me out a lot. Every little detail, he just critiqued it – he helped me, pushed hard, pushed me all the time – always had the ‘go hard first three minute then go hard the next three minutes’ just go hard all the time.”
For Head Coach Mike Mucha, the bittersweet sting of a runner up is all too familiar, and it’s what drives him in the Neuqua Wrestling room
Mucha talks about his history with second place, “Took second twice so that’s one of the things that drive me is not quite reaching where I wanted to so that drives you as a coach to get your athletes to places you couldn’t get to.”
And Jacob Boumans very well could lead the charge Neuqua wrestling has needed says Mucha, “He’s definitely an example for everybody. He’s just and an elevated level of focus this year and that was evident in his day-to-day.”
The lineage of Boumans doesn’t stop with Jacob, sophomore Bryce also qualified for state. And though he bowed out early than his older brother, still enjoyed the second day in Champaign.
“It was pretty cool, I thought he had it. He was just working really hard in the practice room. He didn’t really stop. He’d been focused since last year… he wasn’t unfocused… second place is kinda disappointing but it’s not that bad. It’s second place, it’s pretty good,” says Bryce.
Pretty good indeed… especially for someone who took their lumps in 7th grade and nearly walked away from the sport.