Eisenhower senior Jake Johnson was sitting on 99 career high school wrestling wins, and facing elimination at the District 10 Class AA Championships.
He didn't need any extra motivation.
"We tell him on a daily basis or weekly basis, 'you are reaching a milestone in your life, and we don't want you to look back and have regrets,'" said his mother, Dawn. "He's such a passionate kid. He is with everything."
Eisenhower senior Jake Johnson
He doesn't need to look any further than his family - his parents and three older brothers, all former Eisenhower wrestlers - for where he got that passion from.
Dawn said, "My husband will say to him almost every single time, 'did you give it your all?'
"We're passionate about everything in life," she said. "You have to live today like you might not have a tomorrow. You don't know what tomorrow will bring. If you do a book report, you have to put everything into the book report."
Needless to say, Johnson won his 100th match on Saturday morning, winning four straight matches that day to wrestle back to advance with a third-place finish at 195 pounds.
Or, not needless to say, if you know Johnson. He wrestles every match with passion, and he gets that from his family.
"My husband has always told them, 'remember your last name. We're a good family and you're part of that.'"
A little "Q & A" with Jake Johnson:
Q: Who are your parents and siblings, and what sports do you play?
A: My parents are Tim and Dawn Johnson, my brothers are Justin, the oldest, Andy and Mick. I do football and wrestling.
Q: I know exactly where to start: it seems like I've been typing the name Johnson with Eisenhower wrestling for years. How many in your family wrestled, and who did it start with? Also, was there any added pressure because you were following brothers in your family into the sport, or any added competitiveness?
A: Wrestling started with my dad, and my brothers and I followed suit. Competitiveness with my brothers is what made me the wrestler I am today; my brothers have always pushed me and have been around to support me. But me being one step ahead of my brothers has always been a big deal to me. Wrestling is just one of the things I have to be better at then my brothers.
Q: Who was the best wrestler of all of you (tough question)? Was there a lot of wrestling done in the house (hide the family China kind of thing?).
A: All four of us had our specialties - Andy was the brawn, Mick was the technician, and Justin was a mix of both. Between all the beatings from the three of them, I feel I've been raised into being the best. Wrestling in my house was just something we did when we were bored. For example, whenever my parents weren't home we would move furniture and brawl usually me being the one taking the beating.
Q: Now that you are a senior, do you think of yourself as a leader? How is it different now than it was when you were following your brothers or a youngster on the team?
A: I consider myself a leader; With the small team that we had this year, it was easy for the young pups to follow and go by example. especially with a new coach. When I was a youngin', the sport seemed more stress free. Now I'm the one being looked up to.
Q: How special was it to get win No. 100? What does it mean to you?
A: Win No. 100 was huge to me. I feel like that win was what my career has worked up to - working day in and day out and the 100 wins was the cherry on top.
Q: What is it that you love most about the sport, all the way down to one single solitary thing?
A: The wrestling team is so close; we're a band of brothers, a family. On the wrestling team, you make friends with everyone on the team and know everything about each other, like a real family. I love having a second family.
Q: How special would it be to get to states? Are you embracing the moment, or is there no time for that? What needs to happen for you for you to accomplish that?
A: States is the ultimate goal for every single wrestler to come through Eisenhower. Ever since I was a freshman I've dreamt of making a trip to Hershey. Hershey would be the dream come true. I embraced the moment over the weekend, but, come Monday, I knew it was time to work and prepare myself both mentally and physically. In order to make the trip to Hershey, I need to focus up and put in the extra work like ive been doing all year.
Q: What do you want to do after high school? College? Do you want to continue to wrestle? Would you ever want to become a coach?
A: I plan on attending Edinboro University, and am considering sports. I have every intention of becoming a coach. I love cheering my fellow wrestlers on and teaching the young wrestlers the ropes.
Q: What is the key to you being a good wrestler? I mean, in your temperament or mood or thought process or brute strength, etc.
A: The key to being a good wrestler in my eye is understanding that regardless of how the match goes there is always a winner and always a loser. My father tought me that, at a young age, if you're so upset about losing you'll never be a good wrestler, never be able to come back in long tournaments that require a lot of positive focus. Also, I've learned that 90 percent of wrestling is mental, take in everything your coach tells you and use it on the mat.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: My family is my biggest inspiration. I know no matter how I do my family will be there to support me. My grandma has watched me wrestle ever since I started and hasn't missed a match in years. Also, Coach Black has been a huge part of my career; he played a big part in the wrestler I am today and I couldn't have done it without him.
Q: Tell me something not many know about you that you'd be willing to share.
A: I am actually a huge basketball and Ray Allen fan. I want to see him play one time before he retires.
Q: Tell me one question I forgot to ask, and then answer it.
A: What are your activities outside of school? I enjoy working on my car, being with my girlfriend and being with all my lovely friends.