Ryan Duffy’s goal right now is to win a state title in wrestling. But depending on the time of the year, his focus could be attaining a high goal in another sport.
He was the quarterback on the South St. Paul’s 10-1 football team last fall, is seeded second at 170 pounds in Class 2A wrestling, and is a pitcher for the Packers baseball team. He’ll continue with baseball collegiately. The University of Minnesota announced his signing in December.
“My favorite sport is whatever one I’m playing,” Duffy said. “Whatever season I’m in, that’s my main focus and that’s how I take it with every sport.”
Duffy said he never got a lot of recruiting interest in wrestling or football, so baseball was the one he picked.
His baseball coaches were likely scared when Duffy dislocated two of his ribs earlier this season in wrestling. The injury sidelined him for five weeks. Luckily for him, it was on his right side — he’s a lefthanded pitcher.
Duffy has moved on since the injury, finishing the regular season with a 23-2 record and reaching the individual semifinals in the state tournament. He had a dominating win in the quarterfinals, earning a technical fall after going ahead 18-2.
“I came back stronger. Endurance was one thing I really focused on,” Duffy said. “Now I can stick with anybody out on the mat.”
Last season, Duffy was a runner-up at 170 and placed third the year before. He said winning a title would be a great way to close out his wrestling career.
“I’ve placed three, two, one except I’m missing the one right now,” Duffy said. “I’d like to get that.”
What’s in a name?
He’s considered one of Minnesota’s best wrestling talents and has a Class 2A 170-pound championship and a commitment to Minnesota to his credit. But one question still follows Simley sophomore 195-pounder Daniel Gregory Kerkvliet: Does he prefer to be called Daniel or Greg, the name by which most in the wrestling community know him by?
“Um, probably Daniel,” he said. “It’s what I go by now.
Kerkvliet moved two steps closer to his second state championship with a pin in the first round and a technical fall in the second.
“Wrestling is a game to me,” he said. “I like to go out and see how many points I can score.”
It’s been quite a senior year for Grand Meadow’s Christophor Bain. The 195-pounder remained undefeated with a 9-5 victory over Jason Kasella of Royalton/Upsala in the Class 1A semifinals, improving to 29-0 on the season.
The reason that Bain has just 29 matches? He missed the beginning of season because of football. The SuperLarks won the Nine-Man state championship with a 41-21 over Cleveland in the Prep Bowl. Bain rushed for 278 yards and four touchdowns in the final.
“I missed a few tournaments because of football,” Bain said. “I played in the All-Star Game, and then I had to go to a wedding in California. I think I missed three tournaments and two duals.”
Bain has signed to play football at Southwest Minnesota State next fall.
The brothers Jakes
Mankato West’s Zachary Jakes has been wrestling with his older brothers his whole life, and it didn’t stop once the two became his coaches.
Tyler Jakes and Evan Jakes are both assistant coaches at Mankato West, and Zachary Jakes said they have played a big part in his undefeated record this season. He still wrestles with them in practice.
“They’re everything to me right now,” Zachary Jakes said. “It’s awesome having them right by my side.”
The Class 2A 220-pounder said his brothers constantly give him advice on how to compete at a high level. The advice has worked. Zachary Jakes is seeded second at his weight and won both his Friday matches by pinning his opponent.
“My parents love it,” Zachary Jakes said. “They’ve put in time with us three and they love to see what results we get.”
Michael Hendrickson is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.