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Heslin wins 15U Greco Roman national title, spot on Pan-Am team

Marlborough’s Jackson Heslin, center, won a USA Wrestling U15 national title in Greco Roman last weekend in Wisconsin. Heslin stands with a USA Wrestling official and John Knapp, right, a coach with Poway Elite. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki / SJanickiPhoto.com)

Jackson Heslin, a 14-year-old wrestler from Marlborough, won USA Wrestling’s 15-and-under national championship at 52 kilograms (114 pounds) at the Woodside Dome in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc., in Greco-Roman. He also finished fifth in the 15-and-under freestyle tournament.

The two victories helped Heslin secure a spot on the U.S. team for the upcoming United World Wrestling (UWW) U15 Pan-American championships on Oct. 21-24 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Heslin went undefeated in the Greco-Roman tournament with five consecutive wins. In the preliminary round of the tournament, he won three matches including a pair of technical falls. Heslin swept Brock Weiss from Jersey Shore, Pa., in the best-of-three finals with an 8-0 and 10-0 victory.

In the 52 kg freestyle tournament, Heslin won his first three matches before dropping a 10-0 decision in 2:37 to eventual tournament champion Benjamin Davino of St. Charles, Illinois, in the semifinals. After a 2-0 loss in the consolation semifinals to Aaron Stewart of Waukegan, Ill., Heslin finished fifth with a 13-2 win over Jake Knight of Bettendorf, Iowa.

Marlborough’s Jackson Heslin puts an Brock Weiss to his back in the finals of the U15 Greco Roman national tournament in Wisconsin. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki / SJanickiPhoto.com)

While Heslin lives in Marlborough, he has been training with and represented Poway Elite out of Poway, California, which is about 20 miles northwest of San Diego.

John Meyers, who grew in Connecticut and won three State Open championships at Hall in West Hartford (1986-88), is the head coach at Poway.

“(Jackson) is a terrific wrestler,” Meyers said. “He is a great competitor. But he has company at Poway wrestling with other kids.”

Poway has youngsters as young as six competing in freestyle, Greco-Roman and folkstyle competition in California and around the country.

The program has had five wrestlers earn berths on American Pan-Am teams and two earn spots on World teams over the last several years. Brock Bobzien of Poway High won a national title in the Cadet Division in Greco Roman at 60 kg in Wisconsin and earned a spot on the U.S. team will compete in the Cadet World Championship tournament.

“We don’t want to stop at state championships or regional championships,” Meyers said. “The ultimate goal should be a world or Olympic championship. We instill that in our kids at an early age. To me, it is what is expected of our kids. We’re going there to win. We’re not going (to these tournaments) just to get experience.”

Heslin and Poway Elite will be competing in two upcoming tournaments. They will be at the Western Regional championships on May 13-15 in North Logan, Utah and the 16-and-under National Duals tournament in Westfield, Indiana on June 9-12. Heslin will be part of Team California at the National Duals.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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