Joe Smith, Local Sports, Sports, University

Simpson brothers working hard to bring state title to University

MORGANTOWN — Each day, University grappler Jacob Simpson wakes up to the same message on his phone. The reminder — one which he left for himself before the start of the season — is also plastered on the door in his room, and on the wall where he practices. It may be a bit of overkill, but he wants to make sure he never loses sight of his end goal.

“I wake up every day, my alarm rings, and there it is — 132-pound state champion, Jacob Simpson. I look at my door, there it is again,” he said. “I go to the practice room, same thing. I have a little poster there. It’s the only thing I think about during the day. Now I just have to get it done.”

Jacob — along with his twin brother, Matthew — are two of six seniors that help anchor a University squad that earned a fourth-place finish at the 2018 WVSSAC Wrestling State Championship. Together, they bring a mentality to the mat that exemplifies what Hawks coach Ken Maisel wants his program to be.

“They bring intensity, they bring an attitude, and they always want to work out, wrestle and get better,” he said. “They just want to work constantly, and that’s good for our group.”

Their work ethic has paid dividends for both brothers. Matthew earned a runner-up finish at the 2017 state championship in the 106-pound weight class, while Jacob captured third-place in the 126-pound weight class during last season’s state championship meet.

Jacob credits the duo’s dedication to their passion and desire to be among West Virginia’s elite on the mat. They’re always looking to outwork their next opponent.

“The work ethic has to be top notch because there are other kids working just as hard, and to stay on top, you have to wrestle to be the best, and go out there and put it on the line,” he said.

The Hawks also field 16 underclassmen on the roster, including 11 freshmen, and Maisel hopes that the pair’s efforts on the mat and in the gym serve as an example of how successful grapplers develop.

“Your hope is that these young guys — we have a lot of freshman over there — we want them to see that,” Maisel said. “When you see guys like that winning all the time, they’re not just winning by accident. They’re winning because of the work they do.”

Combined, the brothers share four state championship appearances; each resulting in finishes of sixth-place or higher. One goal, however still eludes either of the siblings — a first-place finish. Jacob is far from shy regarding his title aspirations, which are shared by his brother. As their senior season continues, each leans on the other to help drive them toward their goal.

“He’s like a third coach in the corner. He’s always on top of me and making sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and I make sure he does what he’s supposed to be doing,” Matthew said. “We just have to believe in ourselves and our training, and get it done where it needs to be done.”