Virgil setting example – quickly – for Wolverine wrestlers
Published 11:59 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023
By Jed Blackwell
Watching Jadyn Virgil wrestle is something special.
But you’d better look quick and avoid distractions.
Virgil, Polk County’s senior wrestling at 215 pounds, has been stunningly good, and stunningly quick, so far this season. After his championship victory in last weekend’s War Eagle Invitational at East Henderson, Virgil has just one loss on the season. All of his wins have come via pinfall. All but one of those pins have come in the first round. Ten have come in the first minute.
A lot of them, like two in the Wolverines’ first home duals matches of the year against Shelby and Blue Ridge, were a blur. Virgil’s match against Blue Ridge went 10 seconds. He really stretched the nightcap win against Shelby out – that one lasted 11 seconds.
“It kind of just happens,” Virgil said. “I kind of just do what I do. I know what I’m good at, and if I see a chance, I do what needs to be done.”
What he’s good at, it seems, is leverage, speed and power.
“I think I’m really good at feet-to-back,” he said. “I’m good at taking guys feet-to-back, I’m good on top, I’m good at riding guys out. I try to stay away from bottom.”
He’s also much more than just a wrestler for the Wolverines. He’s a team leader.
“It’s really easy when your best guys are your best guys,” Polk County coach Thomas Hensley said. “He works really hard. He lives a clean lifestyle. He does the right things, he says the right things, he reinforces anything he’s being coached to do. He’s our bell-cow guy.
“Last year against Brevard, I told him that we need him to step up every time. He doesn’t get off matches. He’s done a great job with that.”
Virgil is willing to do whatever the Wolverines need him to do. That includes bumping up two weight classes from 182 pounds, where he wrestled last year and finished sixth at the state 2A championships, to his current spot at 215.
“I’m one of the smaller guys in 215,” said Virgil, who naturally weighs about 200 pounds. “But instead of looking at that as a negative, I see it as a positive. I’m faster than those guys. I’m stronger. I have better positioning, better technique. I’m able to work on my stuff and just out-wrestle them as much as I can.”
Hensley said Virgil has thrived in the heavier weight class.
“He loves it,” Hensley said with a laugh. “He likes to eat. He’ll eat his parents out of a house one day if they’re not careful. He’s really athletic, he loves to lift weights, and he loves being strong. At 215, he’s more athletic than most people. He can move them, he can level change, and that makes him a whole lot better in that regard.”
Virgil said he’s having a blast.
“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but I like wrestling the heavier guys. I like doing what I do.”
Virgil has been wrestling for 11 years now, starting very young. He puts in a lot of work during the off-season as well. Doing so allowed him a special experience akin to a basketball player squaring off with the likes of Michael Jordan.
The Wolverines were able to attend a camp at West Georgia, organized and presented by Penn State. Hensley said showing his young wrestlers the sheer star power on hand was incredible.
“You look at who’s there, and that guy’s an All-American, that guy’s a national champ,” he said. “There were live sessions where they’d jump in and roll with the kids. They had a blast.”
One of those sessions made a huge impact on Virgil.
“I got to wrestle with undefeated college wrestler and four-time national champion Cael Sanderson, the coach at Penn State,” Virgil said. “I just tell people I wrestled HIM. He is THE guy. And it was scary. As soon as he put his hand on my head, I’m thinking ‘Oh no. This is not good.’’ But it was so much fun. I loved it. Just to say I wrestled him is crazy to me.”
Virgil said the entire experience was eye-opening.
“Being able to see some of those guys is the most amazing thing,” he said. “You know those guys are top of the line in the country. To be able to wrestle them and feel how they move and learn their techniques they use is crazy.”
Virgil knows his hot start is just the beginning of a long road. It’s one he’d like to see end in a state championship. Hensley knows that’s the goal, but it’s not the only one.
“I’d be remiss to say that a state championship isn’t the goal, because it is,” Hensley said. “But it’s getting better every day, first off. It’s him helping the team be as great as we can be, and I think that’s something he’s passionate about as well.”
It absolutely is, especially when you hear about Virgil’s future plans.
“I’d like to wrestle in college,” said Virgil, who currently holds offers from Averett and Montreat. “It’s a dream of mine, but I don’t know if I’ll make it there. I want to wrestle for as long as I can. And when I’m done wrestling, I’d love to come back and coach and help and stay around it in any way I can.”