Park High wrestler Danyk Jacobsen almost didn’t make it to the state wrestling tournament this year.
The senior dislocated his elbow in a wrestling match in Bozeman on Jan. 7, and the painful injury sidelined him indefinitely. Doctors told him he would be out at least six weeks.
“That meant I would miss state,” said Jacobsen. “Obviously, with it being my senior year, I didn’t want to admit that it was over.”
Determined to return for the post-season, Jacobsen began researching his injury online, and discovered an article by an orthopedic physician in Tuscon, Arizona, that focused on a quicker return from dislocated elbow injuries. The physician, Dr. Greg Desilva, explained that torn ligaments from a dislocated elbow would start reattaching in about three weeks.
This gave Jacobsen hope that he could return for the wrestling post-season and perform well.
“Dr. Desilva said I wouldn’t have full mobility with the elbow,” said Jacobsen, “but the torn ligaments would heal by then and I could still compete.”
Out for three weeks with his elbow in a brace, Jacobsen kept doing conditioning and cardio exercises to stay in shape. On Feb. 3, the senior wrestler returned to competition at the Divisional tournament, and won all three of his matches to finish in first place.
“I was a little bit nervous about the elbow,” said Jacobsen, who was born and raised in Livingston. “I taped it up and it felt good. I didn’t feel any pain.”
Next up was the Montana state high school wrestling tournament on Feb. 10-11 in Billings at the MetraPark Arena.
Jacobsen has wrestled in the state tournament all four years of his high school career. As a sophomore, he finished in first place and won a state championship. Last year as a junior, he finished runner-up, or in second place.
Now he was returning to the Metra again for his final high school wrestling tournament. With more than 8,000 fans packing the arena, the setting can be a little overwhelming for inexperienced wrestlers.
But not for Jacobsen, who wrestles at the 152-pound weight class. He is comfortable wrestling in front of large audiences, he said.
“I competed in several national tournaments over the summer,” said Jacobsen, “and got used to wrestling in front of large crowds.”
“It was definitely very exciting returning to the Metra,” said the wrestler. “That place gets your adrenaline pumping. It’s a really cool experience.”
On Friday, the first day of competition, Jacobsen won two matches and pinned both of his opponents. “Both pins came in about a minute in the first period,” Jacobsen said.
On Saturday, in the semi-finals, Jacobsen defeated Blaise Cronk of Columbia Falls by a 7-3 decision, setting up a championship match with Reinhard Bold from Havre.
Jacobsen had wrestled Bold three times before and never lost to him.
In the finals, in front of family, teammates and thousands of fans, Jacobsen defeated Bold again in an 8-2 decision, and won his second state championship at Park High.
“Being able to win again was definitely awesome,” said Jacobsen. “I had a lot of adversity that I had to go through this year. Being able to win and come back from the elbow injury was something I was definitely proud of.”
The first people to greet and hug Jacobsen and congratulate him were his coaches, led by Ben Hahn, the head wrestling coach at Park High.
“He (Jacobsen) is an incredible young man and he has always been the hardest-working kid in the room, and everything he has achieved he has earned,” said Hahn. “There are kids out there with probably more talent, but he just flat outworks them. He also had to overcome a lot of adversity this year with his elbow injury and our whole coaching staff could not be prouder of him.”
The two-time state champion was also greeted and embraced by his parents, Jason Jacobsen and Trena Dvorak, and his wrestling teammates.
Later that night, when Jacobsen and his teammates returned to Livingston, he said he was blown away by the police and fire escort down Main Street, and the reception from the community.
“It was so amazing. I can’t explain it,” said Jacobsen. “Seeing the backing from the community was incredible. It was crazy. There were a lot of people. It was very cool.”
The accomplished Park High student-athlete plans on wrestling in college at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he will major in engineering.
For now, however, the 17-year-old student is still reflecting on his second state championship and trying to respond to the many texts and calls that he has received from friends and family.
“My phone is blowing up,” he said. “I’m trying to say on top of it, and get back with everyone. It’s been an emotional, cool experience. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Overall as a team, the Park High Rangers finished 10th at state. Other top individual performers for the Rangers include Gage McGillvray (138 weight, fifth place), Trae Desaveur (132 weight, fourth place), and eighth-grade girl wrestler Bailee Shepardson (114 weight, sixth place).
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