Good role model

Skyview's Savely following in older brother's footsteps

Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Every now again, you hear somebody talking about how hard it is to motivate kids these days.

Maybe all they need is a couple older brothers.

"They put me in my place almost every day," Skyview senior wrestler Jake Savely said of the motivation provided by sibling rivalry. "But that's how I became so self-dependent and hard-working someone was there to push me every day."

That motivation has been paying dividends for Savely this year as he has become one of the top wrestlers in the state. Savely wrestled to a runner-up finish at the North/South Tournament at 145 pounds this past weekend, beating a pair of Soldotna wrestlers during his advance through the bracket, and should be one to watch as the 4A state tournament approaches in February.

"He's a self-motivated young man. He's working hard and running hard," said Skyview coach Neldon Gardner. "My job is to help motivate him to be the best he can be. With some kids, it's difficult to get them at the level they can be, but Jake is a very coachable young man."

Savely's wrestling career hasn't been easy. He's been sidelined with injuries for parts of each season during his high school career, though he's hoping to stay healthy this season a sentiment that sounds a little odd considering his offseason pursuits include bull riding and dirt track stock car racing.

Savely said his older brother Rex, a 2001 graduate of Ninilchik School and a state champion that season at 119 pounds, first got him into wrestling when he was 7 or 8 years old.

"He started wrestling. I didn't go out for the first couple weeks, but we decided to do it together," Savely said.

That was in 1993, and the family Jake, older bothers Rex and Mike, and parents Susan and Marty (a.k.a. Butch) moved to Kasilof from Calif-ornia in 1995.

Savely started his high school wrestling career at Ninilchik the family chose Ninilchik School because the brothers could attend together, rather than being split between separate elementary, middle and high schools.

Savely transferred to Skyview as a sophomore, a move he said has helped his wrestling.

"I have the top wrestlers in the state to show me what to do," Savely said. "I have great coaches, and they've helped me along though injuries, and we have a great team."

As a sophomore, Savely finished sixth at the state championships, wrestling at 130 pounds. Savely missed last year's state meet, but he said one of his goals this season is to be healthy at the end of the season.

Savely's work ethic, his teammates say, makes him a great person to have in the mat room.

"He works hard on the mat," said Skyview senior Brandon Cleveland. "He's a good leader. He's tells people what to do, and he's always on track."

"He's got a good attitude. He's not negative," Gardner said. "Some kids, when you push them, they start complaining. He's willing to work harder and go the extra distance to improve himself."

In addition to having some great teammates with which to work, Savely said that success in freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments in the offseason has bolstered his confidence.

"As a two-time freestyle and Greco-Roman champ, that taught me I could wrestle with the top guys in the state," Savely said. "Now I am one of the top guys in the state."

Savely said that his summer pursuits pose different challenges than wrestling.

"(Stock car racing) is a rush that you can't beat, going full throttle all the time," Savely said. "... Bull riding seems to be the hardest, since I can't stay on, but wrestling take more conditioning and devotion to accomplish your goals."

In fact, Savely claims not to be very athletic, succeeding on the mat through hard work and dedication.

"(Wrestling) is something I'm good at, something I've been able to do I'm not good at any other sports," Savely said. "I've definitely had to work at it, but wrestling is a sport you have to work at."

Gardner said Savely does have some natural ability, but said his attitude has helped overcome adversity.

"He's above average in athletic ability," Gardner said. "He's faced numerous injuries in the time I've known him, but he's dealt with those obstacles. He's always determined to come back hard and do better than he did before the injuries.

"He was in a position to place at state last year, and then he had a neck injury at the West Valley Invitational. I think he has a shot at winning state this year, if things keep going the way they're going."

Savely said he'd like to continue wrestling in college next year, preferably in California or Oregon. His favorite subject is history, and he said he'd like to become a police officer after finishing college.

"I just want to help the community," Savely said. "They've helped me so much through the years, I just want to give something back."

Before looking too far ahead, Savely still has some goals he'd like to reach on the mat namely, making his own contribution to the sibling rivalry.

"I want to make it to state. I want to achieve the same goals as my brother," Savely said. "I'm following in his footsteps, but those are big footsteps to fill."

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