By Craig Mannino
Oyster Bay senior Jake Rankin earned his place in Oyster Bay wrestling history by becoming County Champion for the 285 weight class and placing 6th in the New York State Tournament after his extraordinary 34 wins to 7 losses.
“I’m extremely proud of what I did this season. My goal was to be the best heavyweight in OB history since I was in 10th grade. I accomplished that and cemented my spot in that room as one of the best wrestlers in OB,” Rankin said.
Jake credits much of his success to his coaches, Coach Brush and Coach Axman. “I liked wrestling when I first started. My coaches made me love it. I can’t thank Coach Brush and Coach Axman enough for what they did for me.”
Jake also attributes his success to his brother Dylan, whom Jake has credited for sparking his interest in wrestling. Jake’s wrestling career began in 7th grade after he watched Dylan win his spot as County Champion for the 185 weight class.
“I wanted to start wrestling when I saw my brother wrestle. Not initially, but when I saw him win his County Championship, I knew I had to try. He left a mark in that room, and I was motivated to do the same.”
Rankin added, “He’s my brother, but he means more to me than just that. He was my life coach, my motivator, and a role model for me to follow. I have no idea where I’d be without him.”
Dylan still helps Jake and other young wrestlers by serving as one of the three coaches on the varsity wrestling team and as the only coach for the Oyster Bay Middle School Wrestling Team.
Jake also highlighted the accolades of his teammates. Two other exceptional Baymen wrestlers are Michael Leandrou, who became County Champion for the 138 weight class, and Erik Velasquez, who placed 3rd for the 99 weight class.
“Michael Leandrou and Erik Velasquez did outstanding this year,” Rankin said. “Mike winning the counties was a big accomplishment, and he earned it through all his hard work. Erik placing third was also amazing. I’m excited to see how they do next year as they enter the 2019-2020 season bigger, stronger, and better than ever.”
Although Jake has demonstrated outstanding performances at both the Nassau County and New York State Tournament, he still has more to come in Nationals, a tournament even larger than the two aforementioned competitions. Rankin will be wrestling alongside Michael Leandrou, Erik Velasquez, and Michael Panella. Jakes shares, “I think I have a good chance at placing and earning the title of All American. It’s going to be a battle, though, because I’ll be wrestling some of the best high school wrestlers in the nation.”
With his eyes on the title of All-American, Rankin will be facing a competitive battle; however, he is ready to train harder and wrestle harder. It’s safe to say that Jake has already left an impressive mark on the Oyster Bay wrestling program.
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