- March 1, 2017
Two words changed the fortunes of Braden River High senior wrestler Jessey Colas.
Colas remembered those words, first delivered by his coaches last offseason, when he took the mat at the Florida High School Athletic Association state tournament in Kissimmee. His aggressive strategy carried him to the 182-pounds finals, where he won the championship with a 5-3 win over Satellite High's Michael McCarthy (47-5).
He finished the season 71-0.
A year ago, Colas finished seventh in Class 2A's 160-pound division after entering the state meet as one of the favorite's to win a medal. He said he was heartbroken because he had wrestled conservatively.
"It just killed me," Colas said. "But it also made me want to get back to work as soon as possible."
It was during the offseason that the two words — "just go" — started working their way into the wrestler's head every time he hit the mat. Colas' coaches started telling "just go," to get him to be more aggressive. Then he began saying the phrase to himself.
"Just go" went right along with the fact this was Colas' final season. He wanted to leave everything he had on the mat every match.
He's the first Pirates wrestler to complete an undefeated season and the second to win a state title, following Brendan Bengtsson's win at 285 pounds in 2018.
After Colas won the state title, he talked about what got everything started. He went back to the offseason, when he was competing with Braden River Coach Cezar Sharbono's Spec Ops All-Star team at the 2022 Disney Duals in Orlando in July,
Colas' newfound, aggressive mindset helped him earn All-American honors. In his final match, Colas faced Jarrett Roos, a state runner-up from Iowa, where wrestling is every bit as popular as football or basketball. That match, Sharbono said, is where everything snapped into place for Colas.
"Jessey rode him out to win the match 1-0," Sharbono said. "That's when he realized he can compete with anyone and started to believe he can win a state title."
Colas gave it everything he had, no matter how tired he was. He told himself to go, and he did. So he did it again, and again, into the 2022-2023 high school season.
The Braden River coaches decided Colas would fit better at 182 pounds instead of 160, so he made the switch, even though he wasn't used to the bigger wrestlers. Even so, his confidence never dropped, and neither did his record. Seventy-one matches later, Colas was a state champion.
Even in the state tournament, things only looked dire once, in Colas' semifinal match with Fleming Island High's Josh Sandoval (47-6).
"I took him down late to make it 4-4," Colas said. "Then with probably 30 seconds left, I heard my coach say, 'let him up,' so I did. But that gave him a point, so it was 5-4, and my heart dropped. I was scared and nervous. But then I went into 'go' mode. I knew I had to get a takedown to win and I got one, almost going out of bounds, with around three seconds left."
It was the closest call Colas had in months, and a situation that would have been tough for the 2022 version of himself to overcome. But the 2023 version? Colas might have been nervous, but he never panicked. He knew what he had to do to win, and he did it. He said 'go.'
The finals match against McCarthy went differently than his semifinal match. Colas was off to a fast start, then hung on for the 5-3 win.
He celebrated by giving Sharbono a hug and lifting him into the air.
"It just made me happy," Colas said. "I have a note on my wall with all of my life goals. Being a state champion was one of them, and now I've done it. And to be only the second wrestling champion in my school's history? It's crazy."
Colas started his high school sports journey in the Braden River football program, but after not getting playing time as a freshman, he decided to try wrestling. He admits he didn't immediately think he would hang with the sport until his sophomore season, which is when he began to dedicate himself to it. Two years later, he's a state champion, and he's not done yet.
Colas said he's currently talking to colleges about wrestling at the next level, something he's happy to be doing, as he feels he's only now unlocking his potential.
"To the athletes out there, just keep going," Colas said. "Nothing is going to be easy. Nothing is going to come to you. You have to work for everything. No matter how hard it gets, keep moving forward. You can get past the obstacles like I did, but you have to go."
Colas was one of two Braden River wrestlers competing on the final day of the Class 2A tournament, held March 2-4 at Kissimmee's Silver Spurs Arena. Junior Gage Wiggins (67-4) made it to the gold medal match in the 160-pound division, but lost 15-0 to Mariner High senior Christian Minto (54-1). With Minto graduating, Wiggins could have the inside track for a gold medal in 2024.