By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- P.K. Jessen has plenty of motivation this season. The Sherando senior wrestler also has plenty of appreciation for the sport he loves.
Jessen missed almost all of last season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, and he wants nothing more than to make the most of his final high school season.
"It got me hungry," Jessen said of his return to the mats. "Before when I wrestled year-round I was getting kind of sick of it, and you don't realize how much you love something till it's gone -- and I almost lost it completely. So it's just really motivating."
Jessen has certainly looked motivated in the first two weeks of the season. He is 13-0, with 11 pins.
Last Friday, Jessen went 3-0 in the Max Horz Invitational at Berkeley Springs (W.Va.), with two pins and a tech fall (15-0) in the 170-pound weight class. The accomplishment earned him the Northern Virginia Daily's Male Athlete of the Week for the week of Dec. 8-14.
Originally the tournament was supposed to be a two-day competition, but due to the weather forecast they decided to make it a one-day event. Jessen said he arrived there around 11 a.m. and didn't leave until 3 a.m. on Saturday morning.
"It was a pretty long day," Jessen said. "We just went out there and did what I trained to do, and that's just win and win big -- leave a message."
Jessen, who transferred from Millbrook at the start of the second semester last year, has been leaving some pretty strong messages so far this season for the Warriors.
In the first tournament of the season on Dec. 6 and 7, Jessen dominated his competition with eight first-period pins in a tournament in Hedgesville.
It was Jessen's first tournament back from injury, and he said he was really glad to be back out there.
"It was fantastic," Jessen said of his first tournament back from injury. "I was jumping around. It was the happiest I've been in over a year. It was amazing."
As a freshman at Millbrook, Jessen wrestled at 130. Then his sophomore year he wrestled at 152, placing sixth in the state tournament. Last season he wrestled in two tournaments for Millbrook before suffering the injury.
Jessen said wrestling at 170 this season is perfect for him.
"It's awesome," Jessen said. "It suits my style of wrestling a lot better than the other weights."
Sherando coach Pepper Martin said that Jessen has been a perfect for the Warriors.
"When your wrestlers have been in another program there's usually an acclimation and adjustment period, but I think he's made a really seamless adjustment to the way that we do things with our program here at Sherando," Martin said. "His teammates like him. He works hard in practice."
Jessen has helped lead the Warriors to an 11-0 record in the first two weeks, and they have won both tournaments they were in. The victory in the Max Horz Invitational was the first for Sherando since 2000.
Making their success even more impressive is the fact the Warriors have been without some of their starters due to an extended football season.
"That's a pretty decent step forward," Jessen said of Sherando winning its first two tournaments. "And once we get all those football guys back, I think we're on a good path to doing something pretty good."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd