NYM Wrestling: Jordan Novak sets school's career wins record
New York Mills senior Jordan Novak has come a long was since his first varsity match.
It came as a seventh grader in the Section 6A Team finals. He was pinned.
He was forced to carry that loss with him the entire off-season, since he didn't compete for the Eagles in their individual sections a week later.
"That was hard," Novak said. "I had to live with that loss all year. I couldn't wait to get back on the mat the next fall."
He picked up his first career win at the season-opening Wahpeton Tournament as an eighth grader. Little did anyone know then, but it would turn out to be the first of many victories for Novak.
Last Friday, Novak became New York Mills' all-time wins leader. He picked up career win No. 169 last Thursday with a first period pin over Devin Wicks of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis. The Eagles won the match, 58-16, to finish off their regular season.
Novak's current record stand's at 170-37. The school's previous leader, Peter Mursu, had a career record of 168-42-1. Novak's record this season is 32-2.
"Pete's been great," Novak said. "He always pushes me and has been encouraging. He gives me a little ribbing sometimes," Novak added with a smile.
After going 26-13 as an eighth grader at 112 pounds with a second place finish at the Park Region Conference Tournament, and a fourth place finish at sections, Novak sprouted before his freshman year. He came into the wrestling season as a 130 pounder.
"That was a big change for me," Novak said. "But I was able to handle it."
Did he ever. He basically wrestled between 130 and 140 pounds the remainder of his career. He's earned a pair of Park Region Conference titles to go with three runner-up finishes, as well as two State appearances. As a sophomore, he was the section runner-up and went 2-2 at State. Last year, he won his first Section 6A title, and advanced to the 135-pound State Championship, where he lost a close match to Paynesville's Jon Kerzman, 11-9.
"That was a hard loss," Novak said. "But it just made me hungrier to get back this year."
Novak added that the school's win record is a great honor, but he added that it won't last. What will last is a state title.
His path to State looks pretty good. Novak is currently ranked No. 2 at 135 pounds. No other wrestler in Section 6A is ranked at that weight.
"You still have to take it one step at a time," he said. "Keep my eyes on the prize."
He said the same thing about potential State opponents. Three of his four opponents at State a year ago graduated. His other opponent moved up to 140 this year. And, he hasn't wrestled anyone currently ranked at 135 pounds.
There is a simple reason why a State title is more important than the school's win record. No one could ever take a State title away from him, but his younger brother, Shane, is a very likely candidate to break his wins record.
"I hope he breaks it," Jordan said of his younger brother. "Records are made to be broken."
Shane, a freshman ranked No. 2 at 103 pounds, is already approaching 80 career wins.
"At least I'll have bragging rights for a couple of years," Jordan added.
NYM Wrestlers Top-5 win leaders
Jordan Novak 170-37 +
Peter Mursu 168-42-1
Mike Weller 162-26
Dean Salo 158-25-2
Jared Hotakainen 157-39