The Ottumwa Courier

January 22, 2013

Crosby excels on the mat and in the classroom

Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — Jason Crosby is the quintessential student athlete.

The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont High  School wrestler’s pedigree on the wrestling mat and in the classroom harkens back to a simpler time when the complex nature of sports celebrities were more or less spared from the intense glare of the media spotlight, a time before the ubiquitous eye of the press callously ushered these Zeus-like figures down from their pedestals and forever shattered the veil of innocence that shielded fans from the foibles of their favorite sport’s stars.

Yet, right here in southern Iowa is a young man who appears to be imbued with all the traits attributed to those mythic athletes of yesteryear. Crosby, who is ranked sixth in Class 1A at 138 pounds, is the real deal — one would be hard-pressed to find a moral stain of failure on his academic or athletic record.

The Rocket wrestler has compiled more than 30 victories and suffered only three losses this season. He is one of the many reasons coach Brett Little’s wrestling squad’s record sits at 18-1 this season. Crosby never misses a practice or a meet. He assists in fundraisers for his team. His GPA? A flawless 4.0, the highest in his senior class.

“He’s always doing what he’s supposed to do,” wrestling head coach Brett Little said, “not always what he likes to do, not what’s going to be the most fun, but what he needs to do to be the best at both [academics and wrestling].”

He does everything right. That’s a standard even the saintliest people would have trouble living up to. But, thus far, Crosby appears to have pulled it off.

“He goes above and beyond what’s expected of him and that’s how he stays where he’s at,” Little said.

Little credits Crosby’s parents, Lynn and Craig, with instilling him with lessons on the importance of work ethic and accountability at an early age. Crosby said his parents taught him to “get good grades and do the best I can at everything and be the best kid I can be.”

In his junior wrestling season, Crosby qualified for state and was named first team all-conference. The season, however, was not without its adversity. Crosby leaned heavily on a near arm far leg shot — which Little said he could do as well as anybody — but wrestlers and coaches eventually got hip to his scheme and began planning for it accordingly. The pre-match preparation sometimes worked, as Crosby suffered two 1-0 losses at state.

So this season, coach Little and Craig Crosby, who also is the assistant coach on the wrestling team, worked with Jason on broadening the number of shots in his  repertoire. The Rocket wrestler has added three more shots to his arsenal, which made wrestling him a more arduous task.

“I can take more people down because I have more shots available to use than just one or two,” Crosby said.

What sets Crosby apart is both what he chooses to do and what he chooses not to do. Not everyone is disciplined enough to deny himself a chance to attend a a high school basketball game because he’s got to study for a test, Little said.

“I have to make those decisions a lot,” Crosby said, “I still have some time to hang out with friends, but I’m trying to study a lot more and cut back on that.”

And while it will be hard to replace Crosby because of his 150 career victories, Little said, it may be even harder to replace the standard the senior wrestler has set for his teammates to aspire to.

“Whenever you have a kid who is willing to do whatever it takes in his personal life and in the classroom, it’s a good role model for all those kids,” Little said. “Your grades don’t have to be sacrificed to be a great athlete. And he’s walking proof of that right now.”

But before he departs, Crosby has unfinished business to take care of.

“I’m very competitive,” he said. “I always want to win no matter what I’m doing no matter what it is. I really want to win a state title as a team and individual.”