Wrestling for her dad: Piper Jo Jones competes for first time in Soroco
OAK CREEK — Chad Jones never wanted his daughter to wrestle guys.
“He didn’t want me to wrestle boys because as a coach he couldn’t handle watching me get beat. He as a dad couldn’t handle watching me get hurt,” said Hayden junior Piper Jo Jones. “So he never let me wrestle against boys, but I kind of found a loophole in wrestling against girls.”
Chad Jones was a wrestling coach in Hayden for years and is part of the reason the wrestling program there is so successful. In September 2018, he died unexpectedly.
Piper Jo has stayed connected to the sport and her father by managing the high school wrestling team. With a growing girls wrestling program in Oak Creek, she decided this was the year to put on a singlet.
“I’m just excited because she’s excited,” said Hayden head coach Matt Linsacum. “I think she’s wanted to do this and she uses her dad as a motivational factor. It’s fun to see her be excited about something her family has been so passionate about. It was pretty fun to watch her.”
In the Colorado High School Activities Association’s inaugural sanctioned girls wrestling season, Jones is one of hundreds of girls picking up the sport. In her first-ever high school wrestling appearance, Jones competed at the Soroco duals on Friday afternoon. She got pinned in both her matches, but she told herself not to be upset.
“I think he would be proud. He would be hard on me,” Piper Jo said. “If he was alive still, he definitely would be harder on me than any coach ever would be. That’s why I really miss him as a coach. He would have been the best coach I could have ever had.”
She has years upon years of background knowledge and moves in her head from her father being a coach for so long. She’s watched hundreds of matches at this point in her life. She even had some basic skill stored in muscle memory from her pee wee days. Between that and three days of practice with the Soroco wrestling team, the junior knew she had some moves in her holster. She also knew she was not in shape yet.
“I know my cardio wasn’t good, so in my mind I was like, ‘OK pin her in the first period,” Jones said.
The match was close in the first period, with Jones spending most of the time on top of the Middle Park wrestler, but unable to turn her over. To start the second, she elected to start on bottom. The Middle Park girl took advantage and pinned Jones quickly in the second round. In her next match, she was pinned in the first round.
While upset about the results, she kept her head up, knowing she would improve. Her goals for the year are to win a match and compete at regionals.
Even if that doesn’t work out, she’ll be back next year.
“My dad lost every single one of his matches his freshman year,” she said. “He didn’t win a single match. I’m trying to keep that in my head, that no matter what, he’d be proud of me.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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