Senior looks to cap Bulldog career with title

Jake Eldridge has done just about everything in his four-year wrestling career at Jay M. Robinson.

But even after winning a South Piedmont Conference title (individual and team), a 3A West Regional championship (individual and team) and the 3A State duals team championship last year, going 46-6 overall, he wasn't satisfied.

So this year, the Robinson senior has started the season a perfect 44-0, winning five tournaments along the way and helping his team to a 26-0 record.

Despite a flawless start of the season, he still isn't satisfied.

"My goal is to repeat what (Robinson) and I did last year, and then win an individual state championship with an undefeated record," said Eldridge, who finished fifth individually at states last year in the 145-pound weight class.

"But to do all of that, I'm going to have really buckle down on the practice floor and in matches and work harder than everyone else. When you're undefeated you have a target on your back and everybody wants to take you out."

Hard work will not scare Eldridge.

"(Jake) is not a three-month wrestler," said Robinson wrestling coach Dave Parisi. "He is a guy who does this year round. He is hungry to win that state title. I think he has earned the right to do it, he deserves it."

When Eldridge is not wrestling at Robinson, he is training and wrestling in tournaments across the country with Arrichion Wrestling Club. He has been wrestling year-round since middle school.

In his final high school season, Eldridge will try to prove that he can be the state's best in the next month, as he tackles the SPC tournament Feb. 5 before moving onto state-dual tournament Feb. 8-12, and then regional Feb. 19.

The state individual tournament in Greensboro, where Eldridge hopes he can become a state champion, will be held Feb. 25-26.

While Eldridge will compete individually on the mat, he will have a lot of help and support from a defending 3A state dual champion team that is loaded with talent as eight Bulldog wrestlers are ranked in the top 10 by in their respectively weight class.

Eldridge, who is ranked No. 1 in the state among 152-pounders, as well as fellow seniors Devonte Andujar (140) and Patrick Oakley (160) have the most at stake in their final year at Robinson.

Junior Garrison White, the defending 3A champion (at 112) and Most Outstanding Wrestler at the state dual meet last year, also has a lot on the line as tries to win the 125-weight class title.

After four years of hard work and dedication, for Eldridge and his Bulldog teammates it all comes down to the final month on how this season will be remembered

"This is the most exciting part of the year," said Eldridge.

"I really feel like my time at Robinson has flown by, but I want to finish my career on top. Now, it's my time to step up and go do it."

While Eldridge wants to win that individual title for Robinson, he hopes this is just another chapter in his wrestling career.

Eldridge, who also hopes to place at the Senior National Wrestling meet after the high school season is done, is also looking to wrestle in college. Eldridge currently has interest from Appalachian State, Gardner-Webb and the University of Wyoming.

"Wrestling is a big part of my life," said Eldridge. "I definitely want to keep wrestling."