A season to remember: Jackson Walters wins state wrestling title

Jackson Walters, a senior for the Jamestown High School wrestling team, won his first state championship on Feb. 17, 2023.

Jamestown's Jackson Walters takes down Williston's Ty Wiedrich during their 182-pound match during the North Dakota Class A individual state wrestling championships at the Fargodome on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

FARGO — Larry Eslick had a pretty emotional end to his prep wrestling coaching career Friday evening.

"Finishing the last match of my career with a state champion was pretty sweet," Eslick said. "I couldn't have asked for a better finish. Jackson Walters is an incredible individual and he deserves it."

Walters, the Jays' star 182-pounder capped off his senior season with an individual state championship. The senior took down Williston's Ty Wiedrich in the championship match. Walters won the match via a 3-2 decision.

The Jamestown High School senior kicked off the 2023 Class A Individual State Tournament with a 3-0 performance to punch his ticket to the 182-pound championship match.

Walters began Thursday with a pin on Grand Forks Central's Jayden Haake then moved on to earn an 8-0 major over Bismarck High's Tyrus Jangula. Walters capped off the day with a win over Fargo North's William Ward.


"It was very exciting," Walters said of getting the win over Ward. "My mom was crying and everyone said I gave them a heart attack because it was just in the last 30 seconds that I got three points.

"He was a very talented wrestler and to be able to do that — I just felt like I needed to keep it rolling into the next day and try and finish it out. I missed that opportunity last year and so I wanted to use that momentum and try and get it this year."

This season marks the second-straight year the Blue Jay is going for an individual state championship.

"I wanted it really bad," Walters said. "It's one of those things that has kind of sat with me for a while, knowing I lost to someone I had beat earlier in the year. I felt like I had to switch my game up but my coaches told me that I just needed to keep pressuring so that's what we did and it paid off in the long run."

After collecting his win over Ward, it came out that Walters would be matching up against Wiedrich in the finals. Wiedrich (29-10) was the sixth-seeded coming into the tournament. Walters and Wiedrich matched up twice during the regular season.

"It's always toughest the third time you wrestle someone," Walters said. "The first, they are not used to you, the next they are used to you a little bit more and the third it almost feels like they are a practice partner because you learn about a person in those six minutes."

While the action began at 8 a.m. on Friday, Walters and Wiedrich weren't set to square off until 6 p.m.

"That was 10 hours that I was just sitting in the dome so that was actually one of the harder things because I was ready to go right away and then I realized that I had two hours of wrestling left after the introductions.


"Nerves were kind of kicking in at that point so I had to go back and calm myself down a little bit but people were there supporting me and keeping me calm and focused on what I need to focus on," he said.

Once he finally hit the mat, the nerves floated away.

Through the first period, Walters got a 2-1 advantage over Wiedrich but the Williston junior made a quick comeback and evened things up at two apiece before Walters notched an escape to give him a 3-2 lead.

"We knew that it was going to be a close match," Walters said. "I was preparing for it. My mentality was just to get a takedown and get the lead."

With 18 seconds left on the clock, Walters suffered his first bloody nose of his wrestling career and after coaches plugged his nose with cotton he told them:

"Just wash off my hands, I just need to go finish it really quick."

From there, the senior put his hands down and didn't allow any shots.

"(After the match) I gave Coach (Eslick) a big hug and he said he liked finishing on top," Walters said. "It was a pretty good send-off."


Walters finished his regular season schedule with a perfect 10-0 record. The senior was the No. 1 seed in the 182-pound bracket with an overall record of 32-1. On Jan. 13, Walters became the most recent Blue Jay to earn 100 career wins.

"This season has meant a lot to me," Walters said. "It's a season that I am definitely going to remember forever

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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