Slicer Ashton Jackson wrestles his way to Indy and brings home the gold

 

Ashton holds his medal with (from left) his brother Brayden, mom Nacole, sister Bailey and dad Adam.

Story by WNLP’s Bob Wellinski, photos provided by the family

Another state trophy will be added to the La Porte High School athletic trophy case after La Porte wrestler Ashton Jackson captured the IHSAA State Wrestling Title in the 106-pound class Feb. 20. And he did it in dominating fashion.

Ashton stands atop the podium in Indy on Saturday.

Ashton will join four other former Slicer wrestlers boasting a state title — Matt Graham, Vince Stigler, Jerry Jackson and Mark Scott.

Teammate Jamaal Salary joined Ashton at the state final in Indianapolis, wrestling in the 160-pound weight class. Salary was defeated Friday evening.

“I’m not sure if it’s really sunk in yet,” said Ashton, who is only a sophomore. “I was pretty excited. I finally know I obtained a goal that I’ve been chasing for quite a few years and it’s pretty gratifying.”

Ashton got on the board early with a takedown and controlled the championship match. He held a 7-0 lead in the third period before his opponent finally scored. 

“It was good to put the first points on the board, build up my momentum, execute. Just knowing that was the last match, my last six minutes, I was going to give it everything that I had because I knew he was a strong competitor,” Ashton told WNLP. When the final buzzer sounded, a jubilant Ashton ran off the mat into the arms of his coaches with an 8-2 decision. 

Coach Louie Kuzdas was equally excited, as Ashton is his first state champion as a head coach. “Unbelievable. It felt like I went through a wrestling tournament this weekend,” joked Kuzdas.

Kuzdas was impressed with the way Ashton dominated throughout the tournament. Ashton was ranked 7th in the state and beat 12 of the top 25 ranked wrestlers on his way to the state title. He finished the year with a 35-2 record.

“He gave up three point in four matches; he totally dominated. It’s unbelievable he did what he did,” said Kuzdas.

“I always felt he had a state championship in him, but I didn’t think it was going to happen this soon. We have two more seasons to try and get back, but the work starts now,” said Kuzdas. He added that with the state title “he’s going to have a target on his back.”

Kuzdas is familiar with the Jackson family. Ashton’s dad, Adam, wrestled for Kuzdas in the late 1990s. In fact, Adam was Kuzdas’ first state qualifier as a head coach. Now, years later, the youngest Jackson beat his dad to the top of the podium. 

Kuzdas wasn’t the only one celebrating Ashton’s accomplishment.

“I’m very proud but still in shock. I can’t even describe the emotion, the nerves, the anxiety. I’m grateful my husband was next to me because it was very intense,” said Ashton’s mom, Nacole. 

Adam, who “has been there,” was just as proud. “It was very emotional because I know all the hard work he puts in all year round. It’s been a crazy year and to see him ranked 7th in the state and beat nine state-ranked kids on his way to a championship was amazing — as a sophomore.”

Nacole recalled saying during the match, “I can’t believe that’s our 5-pound baby out there.” She explained that Ashton got off to a slow start at birth with an extended hospital stay. Well, the 5-foot, 4-inch, 106-pound state champ has proven he’s a force to be reckoned with.

TO WATCH Ashton’s state championship match, click on this link. His match begins about 30 seconds in: IHSAA Champions Network

5 Responses to “Slicer Ashton Jackson wrestles his way to Indy and brings home the gold”

  1. Brad

    Feb 22. 2021

    Congratulations Ashton. You are a shining star in an otherwise dim LPHS sports achievements.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dean Heise

    Feb 22. 2021

    Wonderful wonderful, congratulations Ashton ! Nobody has worked harder than you, with family support and good friends around you. Best wishes! Dean and Sharon

    Reply to this comment
  3. Chucka

    Feb 22. 2021

    Congratulations, Ashton! Awesome effort winning the state championship!! Few wrestlers have achieved this lofty status!

    Reply to this comment
  4. G.Gottio

    Feb 22. 2021

    Congratulations on winning state,Hope u continue your winning ways,Now if we had a coach in baseball that knew how to make winners we would get Our recognition back,

    But I doubt it

    Again congratulations your coach is s true class act coach!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Dan In LP

    Feb 25. 2021

    Congrats, Ashton! Enjoy this moment.

    It’s too bad others want to throw shade at other LP Athletic programs in the midst of one of our school/communities greatest moments. This should be about you and your hard work and determination. Coach Brown and Kuzdas rave about your work ethic. Continue to be the example my man!

    Reply to this comment

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