Jackson Wray

(Malvern) -- East Mills senior Jackson Wray had his choice of schools and sport in college. He ultimately landed on wrestling at Wartburg College.

"It means a lot," Wray said. "I don't feel like my athletic career is over. I don't have to give up on it."

The Class 1A 160-pound state qualifier was a standout during East Mills' recent football success and contributed to Glenwood's soccer program, but he says his heart has always belonged to wrestling.

"You're out there by yourself, and all the pressure is on you," Wray said. "I like that. It was also the sport I had the most success in, and for whatever reason, the sport I most enjoyed."

Wray fielded offers for either wrestling, football or soccer from Simpson, Buena Vista, Loras and Grand View, but it was Wartburg -- and wrestling head coach Eric Keller -- that caught his eye.

"It was a tough choice, but I knew I wanted to play a sport," he said. "I feel like I knew all along, but I had to realize that. I really liked the coach. We really connected. The attitude everybody had up there is a similar attitude to the one I have. I feel like the decision was the right one."

Wray finished his career as a state qualifier last season and made massive strides throughout his career.

"I grew mentally," he said. "When I was younger, I'd be up in matches, and then something would happen. As I got older, I handled the situations better."

Wray hopes to continue his progression collegiately.

"All of their kids get great match time," he said. "It's a place I'm going to improve. I'll just try to stay focused. Being at a bigger school will be a transition. I think being aware of that will help. I want to wrestle, have an impact and make them happy that they recruited me."

Wray plans to study business at Wartburg. He made his comments on Thursday's Upon Further Review. Click below to hear the full interview.

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