CHAMPAIGN – Sometimes the best offense is a great defense – just ask Jake Snow.
The Newman senior tried to up his offensive game in the Class 1A 145-pound championship bout against Dakota's Greg Krulas on Saturday night at State Farm Center. A great defensive stand, however, was the difference in Snow's 3-1 victory.
It is the second state title for Snow (40-1), who won a 112-pound title as a freshman. His only loss this season came in overtime to Krulas' teammate J.J. Wolfe, who won the 138-pound title.
"Everybody says this is an exciting, breathtaking moment, but I think it's more of a relieving moment," Snow said. "Everything I've worked for has finally paid off. It feels really good, and it's just nice to know I was able to pull it off in the end."
Snow scored a takedown midway through the first period to seize a 2-0 lead, was a still up 3-1 after trading escapes in the second and third periods.
Through it all, Snow continued to attack, only to be turned away each time by Krulas (34-11), who had a definite game plan. Krulas lost to Snow 12-3 in the finals of the Byron Sectional last week, and was determined to make this a low-scoring affair.
"I needed to let him make the mistakes when he's on offense," Krulas said, "instead of me just pushing him, and him countering my mistakes. I needed to let him do some of the work, and try to do what I could off of his work."
"Krulas had a great game plan," Newman coach Steve Davis said. "He had us figured out. He tied Jake up and he didn't take any shots, which is when Jake can really score. They did a fine job of scouting him out."
Snow, normally a defensive specialist, grew more and more frustrated. At one point, he put up his hands to express that emotion.
"I kept trying and trying and trying to get another takedown," Snow said, "because I wanted more than a two-point lead. I was hoping he'd get a stalling call, because I was taking a lot more shots than he was."
The key moment came with about 10 seconds left in the third period. Krulas took a shot, grasped Snow's left leg, and had the makings of a tying takedown. Snow, however, hopped toward the outer circle and was able to extricate himself from the sticky situation.
"That takedown, that one scared me," Snow said. "It was dangerous, but our coaches help us in that situation. They give us a lot of drills to learn good hip movement. It all helped there."
"I didn't get him down, and I knew I didn't have it," Krulas said of the late flurry. "I was trying to get the leg in the air and get him on the edge of the mat to see if he would quit, so I could get the easy two, but he didn't give up."
With the match in hand, Snow was surprisingly calm. After the mat official raised his hand in victory, he went over to console Krulas. He never did the muscle-flexing display toward the home fans that has become the norm.
"I respected him," Snow said of Krulas. "I respected that kid. I talked to him off the mat. He's not one of those kids that stays away from an opponent. I don't like doing that. I try to be friends and talk to kids after I wrestle them, whether I win or I lose.
"I respected him, and I didn't feel like a big showboating win was necessary."
Snow claimed Newman's 35th individual state title, a Class 1A record.