Fresh off a long day of school, wrestling practice and watching junior high teams wrestle, Jayden Terronez’s infectious smile tells you all you need to know about how much the Moline High School junior loves wrestling.
But in case you want him to tell you more, he gladly will.
“I fell in love with it at a young age,” said Terronez, a 6-foot-2 junior who mainly wrestles at 152 pounds. “From the day I started, it’s my life. It’s all I do. I wrestle in the off-season. I love doing it.”
Wrestling is unique compared to other sports, Terronez (32-5) said.
“Just the atmosphere. It’s different than any other team sport, any other individual sport,” he said. “The grit and everything you get from it, it’s unlike any other sport.”
So far, this season Terronez is unlike any other Illinois Quad-City wrestler. He leads the entire Illinois Quad-City area with 23 pins. In fact, his first 10 matches were all pins. It’s clear he believes he might have a few more, were it not for teams starting to forfeit to him rather than face him and get pinned.
“I wanted to break the (school) record,” he said. “I think it’s 32, but teams started forfeiting to me. It’s still possible.”
He knows one thing, his coach sure likes the bonus points. A regular decision gives the team three points, but a pin garners six.
The pinning habit began his sophomore year.
“All of a sudden the top position clicked for me, and I started getting pins,” he said.
Moline coach Jacob Ruettiger wants pins, not just wins, when possible.
“My coach preaches getting six,” Terronez said, “and tells me to go out there and get pins whenever I can. So that’s what I do.”
Ruettiger said Terronez’s experience helps him, but his work ethic and will to improve might be just as important to his success.
“He’s buying into the process,” said the coach. “He’s making that next-level commitment. He’s wrestling all summer; he’s working hard in the weight room; he’s listening to the coaches. He’s doing everything he needs to to take that next step and continue to get better.”
His height is helpful, Ruettiger said.
“He’s very solid on his feet, and his length is huge, especially at the weight he’s at," Ruettiger said. "Being able to defend and get on his offense, how long he is, is a really key attribute.”
And cutting weight is no problem for Terronez.
“I walk around pretty heavy, but once I get in the season and I work out twice a day, my weight drops,” he said. “I am not cutting too much weight. I’ve been cutting weight since I was in third grade. So I am experienced."
It’s a key time of the season right now, Terronez readily acknowledges. A win against Alleman on Wednesday will put Moline in the driver’s seat to capture its fifth straight Western Big Six title.
In less than two weeks, it’s Class 3A regionals at United Township, and a week after that it’s sectionals. That’s as far as Terronez got during a 33-14 sophomore season at 145 pounds.
He would like to take it a step further and be able to equal his dad, Stuart, who made it to state for Moline at 215 pounds. Terronez thinks he’s added mental toughness to his equation for success this year.
“Fighting through ever position,” he explained, “fighting through every match.
“Looking at (every match) like it’s the state finals. That’s what I have been trying to do this year.”
His plan at state in some ways is to keep smiling.
“Have fun," he said. "Let it fly. Wrestle.”