Blue Jay wrestler manages comeback after concussion
Pete Rasmussen, a junior for the Jamestown High School wrestling team, suffered a concussion in mid-December.
On Dec. 18, 2021, Pete Rasmussen left the Valley City Holiday Wrestling Tournament in a different headspace than he was in when he arrived.
"He was wrestling in the semifinals in Valley City and the young man he was wrestling came down on the back of Pete's head," said Jamestown High School head wrestling coach Larry Eslick. "Unfortunately that sidelined him until (Jan. 25)."
A five-week concussion was definitely not on Rasmussen's radar entering his junior season with Eslick and the Blue Jays, but with the support of his teammates, innate work ethic and strong coaching, Rasmussen is on his way to the Class A Individual State Wrestling Tournament.
"Coming into this season my goal overall was to improve even more in the areas I worked on last year — takedown, keeping them down when I’m on top — I also knew I would have a pretty good shot at first in the state at 120 (pounds) even before the season was getting started," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen began his junior season with a 16-point performance at the Jamestown Knights of Columbus Wrestling Tournament on Dec. 4 and two dual wins against Bismarck High and Williston.
At the Holiday Tournament, Rasmussen got a pair of wins in the 120-pound quarterfinals and semifinals before he dropped in an 8-0 major decision to Valley City's Koye Grebel in the 120-pound title match.
"I’ve definitely been set back, and I’m not where I could have been if I didn’t have to sit out for five weeks," Rasmussen said. "The hardest part was not working out. When I was younger I was at a wrestling camp and the coaches would yell, 'don’t slow down, speed up' and that’s how I train even now especially in the weight room.
"So when I started feeling dizzy or worn out my first instinct was to fight through it even though I need to stop and rest."
Every day, following the injury, Rasmussen said he would walk for 10 or 15 minutes and try to maintain his weight nutritionally. For mental stimulation, Rasmussen said he would also work on puzzles to encourage his brain to work and heal. After he finally made it to concussion protocol, Rasmussen said he would use every minute he could to try and recondition and strengthen.
While he was on break for the holidays, Rasmussen had a lot of support and encouragement from his family. After the break wrapped up, Rasmussen tried to make it to practices to remain part of the Blue Jay team.
While his brain was getting stronger, Rasmussen's physical musculature was weakening the longer he stayed on the sidelines.
"I took it slow at first and worked my way back into it, I did more running than wrestling for the first few days," Rasmussen said. "The next day after my first match back, I was exhausted and I honestly thought I would be done the rest of the year. I told my body to move but it just didn’t do what I needed it to. "
Jan. 25 marked Rasmussen's first match back for the Blue Jays. Rasmussen won in a 3-2 decision over Bismarck's Century Ethan Kuntz. Rasmussen went 6-0 in WDA duals, three of which came in pins.
"My teammates encouraged me," Rasmussen said. "They said don’t push it but we are really excited to have you back on the mat, they made it not so much about getting back to complete my goals but getting back to complete the team."
The junior has truly completed the Blue Jay squad and has helped the team to a third-straight appearance at the Class A State Dual Tournament on Saturday.
While the Jays have had a good core of wrestlers the last three years, Rasmussen said Eslick is the reason main reason the Blue Jays get to represent the West as a team again this year.
"He’s standing beside us giving us a reason to work even harder, before practice he preaches to us our goals, speaks of conditioning through adversity, and after hard duals he reminds us this is what brotherhood looks like, training through each other's blood, sweat, and tears," Rasmussen said.
As a team, the Blue Jays started out the year at 1-4 in the WDA standings but managed to come together, get some wrestlers — like Rasmussen — healthy and pull out five consecutive conference duals to end the regular season.
The Jays are set to face West Fargo Sheyenne in the opening round of the dual tourney. Jamestown defeated the Mustangs earlier this season.
"Coach Eslick is a reason we aren’t teammates we're brothers, and that’s why this team or rather, a brotherhood, has been able to push the boundaries and break the barriers we’ve broken," Rasmussen said.
After the Jays got the news that they were a lock for the state team competition, it was on to the individual WDA tournament. The Jays hosted the regional contest on Feb. 12, where they placed third as a team.
Eslick had 12 wrestlers, including Rasmussen, qualify to the individual state contest. Colton Mewes and Jackson Walters brought home West Region titles at 160 and 170 pounds.
Heading into WDAs, Rasmussen was looking to place near the top of the podium and while he wasn't able to get a WDA title, he still wound up placing third, defeating Dickinson's Gavin Morel in an 11-2 major decision.
Morel was the one who sent Rasmussen to the consolation bracket. After receiving a first-round bye, Rasmussen got topped 6-1 by Morel in the quarterfinals. Rasmussen rebounded quickly and came back to win three in a row to advance to the third-place match.
While a good portion of his season was taken away, Rasmussen's ability to come back to the mat hungrier and stronger has been an answer to prayer.
"Mentally it was hard at times but I focused on the promises of God that he would restore me, and what was lost will be regained seven-fold," Rasmussen said of dealing with the injury. "God is a God of restoration and where there is adversity faith flourishes."