The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 21, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Long memory, big results for Lagoa

By DON McCORMACK - donmac@suite224.net
Sports Editor

— Jacob Lagoa isn’t your typical 11-year-old. You know the type, faces buried in their cells or staring blankly at the big-screen, high-definition television playing “Call of Duty,” mind wandering no further than the image staring back at him.

In fact, the son of Eladio and Allison Lagoa, has quite an attention span.

“He’s all out, all the time,” his dad said. “He’s very, very aggressive.”

Having advanced to the state championship match of the Ohio Youth Wrestling Championships 100-pound weight class at Akron Firestone, Jacob knew his opponent, a young man from Akron Buchtel, well.

Very well.

“I had wrestled him three years ago, when I was 8, at a tournament,” he said.

And the result?

“I beat him in that match,” he said.

Which paved the way for what happened in the rematch between the two young combatants three years later.

“He was scared,” Jacob, a standout for the Ashtabula Little Lizards, said. “I could see it all over his face.”

So his opponent, too, remembered their first meeting three years previous?

“Oh yeah,” Jacob said.

The conclusion, though reached in a different manner, was the same.

“Jacob pinned the kid in 48 seconds,” his dad said, pride almost bursting through his words. “He got on him right away.”

The state championship, the first for the Little Lizards program, who are coached by Jake Reihner, Richard Coup, Scott Blank and Eladio Lagoa, came with Jacob’s trademark move.

“Double-leg takedown, then a half (Nelson),” Jacob said. “It’s my best move.”

The sixth-grader at Superior Elementary School will be moving up to the junior high level next year, wrestling for Lakeside’s program that won the Premier Athletic Conference junior high championship this winter.

“Yeah, I’m excited,” Jacob said.

The progression up the wrestling ladder will be natural for Jacob, his dad said.

“He’s been wrestling since he was 6,” Eladio said of he and his wife’s oldest, who is joined by brother Lorenzo (8) and Nadia (3) in the Lagoa clan.

In wrestling-speak, Jacob’s best asset is well known, his dad said.

“People who know the sport say he has really good hips,” he said. “Everyone compliments his hips.”

Which leads to excellent balance, a huge advantage that allows a wrestler to stave off attacks and get to their feet quicker when taken down.

“It helps Jacob,” Eladio said. “He’s a very aggressive wrestler... 100 percent, all the time.”

Perhaps so, but both father and son admit to feeling cases of the butterflies when it came time for the championship match.

“I had to step back as a coach,” Eladio admitted with a laugh. “I even let Coach Reihner and Coach Coup sit in the coaches’ chairs. I sat matside, but I was very much being a dad, at that point.

“Oh, yeah, I was a little nervous,” Jacob said. “Because I know at anytime, I can get caught with a move by someone and it could be all over.”

The butterflies were netted quickly, though.

“Once I got ahold of him, I knew I had him,” Jacob said. “I remembered our first match. But this time, I was able to finish him.”

Attention to detail... not typical for an 11-year-old.

Nor is winning a state championship.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.