The next step for Creston/Orient-Mackburg’s standout wrestler Jackson Kinsella came down to one major factor.
Kinsella signed his letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Friday, capping off speculation of further plans for the No. 3 wrestler at 182 in Class 2A.
The decision to move to Kearney, Nebraska came from the Lopers’ wrestling program having tremendous success in recent years.
During the last two seasons, UNK won the Super Region VI Championship to qualify for the NCAA championship. The season was canceled due to COVID-19 before 2019-20’s championship.
The Lopers have qualified for the National Championship every year in the past decade, finishing in first place during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.
The 2019 state runner-up at 182, Kinsella adds to a strong UNK squad. Seeing the success of UNK through recent years, Kinsella narrowed down his options from Northern Colorado, Grand View and UNK.
“The week of homecoming, I think once we lost to Denison, one big thing (I realized), for me, is I wanted to be part of a winning program that was going to win national titles,” Kinsella said.
Not deciding on UNK until late in his senior football season, Kinsella said he went throughout the summer believing he would attend Northern Colorado, but the decision to flip came down to the “dynasty” and being part of a winning program.
Last season, Kinsella came up just short at the state tournament, losing a 3-2 decision to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont’s Sage Walker – current Grand View University wrestler.
After the loss, Kinsella’s desire to finish atop the podium was at an all-time high.
“I don’t want to sound ungrateful by any means, but this was never the goal,” Kinsella said in the Wells Fargo Area Saturday, Feb. 22. “This is fueling the fire, for sure. I don’t know what my training methods will be, but they’re going to be a heck of a lot harder next year. I’ll do whatever it takes. ... I’m going to do anything.”
This season, Kinsella said he’s potentially beginning the year at 195 pounds, despite his ranking at 182. But, Kinsella is still looking to get back to the Saturday night championship final match, with the focus this year being what he’ll build on before going to UNK.
“I feel like I want to focus on getting better instead of cutting so much weight and winning because no matter what, you’ve got to adjust to the college level next year,” Kinsella said. “That’s huge for me.”
Creston/O-M and Kinsella officially open the wrestling season today (Monday), starting with practice. First competition for the Panthers comes Dec. 1 with a season-opening quad at 5:30 in Truro’s Interstate 35 Community High School.