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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/4/2013 11:07:38 PM

By Brian Jerzak
John’s Journal Correspondent

Three of the top wrestling teams in the state got together in Shakopee last Thursday. Shakopee is ranked No. 6 in Class 3A by The Guillotine while New Prague is No. 4 2A and Simley is No. 2 in 2A. Before the night was over, it was clear which team stood above the rest – as they have many times – … Simley. Just as they have been during the program’s entire history, the Spartans were led by one of the most influential families in Minnesota wrestling, the Shorts.

After New Prague completed a come-from-behind victory over Shakopee to stay undefeated in the Missota Conference, the Trojans took on the Simley Spartans. Simley head coach Will Short likes his team’s makeup this season.

“We’ve got a great group of seniors and a lot of guys who are starting to put it together,” said Short. “We are just trying to put it together for the end of the year.”

Short – who was a two-time state champion for the Spartans and an All-American as a Minnesota Gopher -- is one of four state championship Short brothers at Simley. Chris and Wade short both won two championships and John won one state championship. They all wrestled for the school’s first wrestling coach – Jim Short, who is their father. (Pictured here are Will and Jim.)

“We were a wrestling family,” Will said. “Every weekend revolved around a wrestling tournament.”

The brothers pushed each other to become the dominant wrestlers they became.

“You wanted to be successful. You wanted to work hard,” said Will Short. “(My brothers) showed me how to work hard and train hard. We were the biggest fans of each other. We were very competitive with each other, but we were always fans of each other.”

After Short retired from active wrestling he went into coaching. He was the head coach at Mora for two years before returning to the Gophers. When a job opened up at Simley, he replaced his recently retired father. Since then, Will and father Jim – who came out of retirement -- have alternated between head coach, co-head coach, assistant coach and in Will’s case, athletic director.

In that time Simley has built a dynasty. They have won nine state championships, including the last five Class 2A titles. The family is not just two generations deep. Two of Jim’s grandsons help anchor the middle of the current Spartans lineup. Chris Short’s son Mack is a junior who placed fourth in last year’s state tournament and Will’s son Jake is a senior who might be the best wrestler in the state. Jake will follow in his dad’s footsteps and wrestle for the Gophers next season.

“Jake is what you want in a wrestler as he grows,” said his father and coach. “He has offense, he has great defense, he can turn on top and he can get away. He gives you a good hard six minutes every time he walks out onto the mat. He can wrestle in all positions. That is what you want in a wrestler. Mack placed fourth last year and he is really coming around this year. He is very close, he has really stepped up his game this year.”

Neither of the youngest generation disappointed on this night. Against New Prague, Mack (the top-ranked wrestler in 2A at 145 pounds) fell behind early but finished strong with 14-6 major decision. He was just as dominant in the nightcap against Shakopee with a 13-2 victory.

Jake Short, ranked No. 1 at 152, dominated in his match immediately following his cousin. Thirty five seconds into the match, Jake was ahead 7-1 by using superior quickness and upper-body strength to rack up two takedowns and a near-fall. About forty seconds later, Short had a first-period pin.

“Jake has had to deal with a lot of pressure because of his last name,” said Will Short, “but because of that it has allowed him to be in a pressure cooker and now when we need a big win he has been the guy who has been able to pull it off. He has learned how to deal with the pressure.”

In his second match, Jake scored with a takedown and near-fall to take a 5-0 first-period lead. He added a second takedown in period two and finished up in the third with a 10-1 decision. Despite his success on the mat, Jake is by no means a one-trick pony.

“I think sometimes people think Jake is all wrestling,” said his father. “He is a very committed football player. He is a very committed tennis player. He is a three-sport athlete. He has done a lot (outside of wrestling).”

It was business as usual for the Shorts and the Simley Spartans. They won both matches going away, 48-15 over Shakopee and 55-6 over New Prague. The cousins racked up a combined 17 team points. It was another successful night for a family that has given so much to the sport.

“I think we have contributed to Minnesota wrestling,” said Will, “but Minnesota has given so much back to our family. There are a lot of families who have done a lot for Minnesota wrestling. Minnesota is a great state for wrestling and we have benefited from that.”


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