Former World Team member and 2016 Olympic Trials runner-up Jacob Clark (Wrestle-Jitsu/Minnesota Storm) was seeking to add another title to his legendary resume in Las Vegas yesterday and in a way, he did. Just not in the way he probably would have preferred. Clark entered the “B” division at the US Veteran Nationals in the 97 kg class, but had no opposition. There was no one else who registered in his division, leaving Clark without any opponents and a Veterans National championship by default.
Clark, 36, came back to competition this season after spending the bulk of the last few years in semi-retirement. Having moved to Hawaii, he founded Wrestle-Jitsu, a grappling-based wrestling school which also offers training in jiu-jitsu, MMA, and other combat sports disciplines. Through his work in the MMA world, Clark has helped train some of that sport’s elite names including BJ Penn, Joe Warren, Mo Lawal, and Bobby Lashley, among others. Wrestle-Jitsu is based in Honolulu and Clark serves as the academy’s head instructor.
When Clark returned to the mat this past year, he surprised the US Greco community by not only winning the Open, but doing so in utterly dominant fashion, going un-scored upon throughout his march to gold. In the finals, he defeated 2012 Olympian Ben Provisor (NYAC) 4-0. Provisor, however, would go on to defeat Clark in two straight matches at the Olympic Trials finals earlier this month. But the Minnesota native had a beast of a tournament there, too. Clark got past Hayden Zillmer (CrosbyHay) 8-0 in the quarterfinals before defeating the tough and talented Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) 8-0 to move on to the best-of-three versus Provisor.
As for what’s next for Jacob Clark going forward, it is up in the air. Does he still have the competitive fire to come back around for a shot at the World Team next year? His 2015-16 campaign demonstrated that despite being in his mid-30’s, this is a man who has some high-level wrestling left in him. The impressive poise and technical acuity that has become a trademark of his over the past decade and change was still evident. Or was this attempt at a Veteran National Championship something different? Clark has national titles to his credit across just about every age group level, so this might have been sort of a cherry on top. Hopefully, we’ll find out more soon.
Image: John Sachs/Tech-Fall.com