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Fri, Dec. 13

Vols grappler Jimmy Wayman tests his skills against competition in Japan

Lee Williams’ Jimmy Wayman, third from right, poses before flying overseas for the 2019 Arizona/Japan Cultural Exchange program.

Lee Williams’ Jimmy Wayman, third from right, poses before flying overseas for the 2019 Arizona/Japan Cultural Exchange program.

KINGMAN – Jimmy Wayman could have easily done what many high schoolers do during the summer – relax and enjoy themselves. But Wayman had bigger plans.

The Lee Williams High School senior filled his vacation time with a number of wrestling excursions, highlighted by a trip overseas for the Arizona/Japan Cultural Exchange program.

“It was a really cool experience going to Japan,” Wayman said. “It was weird at first wrestling people from a completely different country that don’t speak your language. Eventually, you kind of acclimate. And at the end of the day, it’s just wrestling.”

Wayman set out on his journey to Japan on June 22 and didn’t return to the United States until July 2. He gained useful experience during that span, while also finishing 4-1 during the dual-format tournament.

“I definitely grew a lot wrestling-wise and culturally by seeing that other side of the world,” Wayman said. “And I’ve learned a lot of new stuff that is going to help me out this year.”


Jimmy Wayman, left, is declared the winner during a match in Japan. (Courtesy photo)

That is something Vols head coach Dan Ondrejka is looking forward to, along with Wayman sharing the newfound knowledge with the rest of his teammates.

“I can’t wait to see some of the stuff that he’s learned,” Ondrejka said. “He learned different styles, new techniques and everybody here is really excited to see what he’s learned and what he can bring back to the room.”

But Ondrejka also knows Wayman took a lot of what he has already learned and used it overseas. That made Ondrejka proud, but he quickly shifted the attention to Wayman’s accomplishments.

“We’re really happy for him,” Ondrejka said. “And it’s really good recognition for him and our program. It really shows how hard these kids are working and they are doing something that is bigger than Kingman.”

Not many wrestlers get to experience the challenges of wrestling overseas, but Wayman wasn’t done yet. He returned from Japan and attended a wrestling camp at Arizona State University before taking another trip out of state.

This time his destination was Fargo, North Dakota for Nationals from July 12-20

“I was on track to placing at Nationals and then I hurt my knee, unfortunately,” Wayman said. “I got caught in a move and that was kind of disappointing. But it was a really good experience and I learned a lot in the training camp right before.”

Nevertheless, Wayman qualifying for Nationals was an accomplishment in itself and his coach couldn’t be prouder.

“When it comes to Fargo, it is the biggest stage in wrestling and the biggest tournament in the country,” Ondrejka said. “And for Jimmy to even go there and win one match is huge. We’re going to take that as a victory right there. For him to perform on an international level and a national level is huge for him, it’s huge for this school and it’s huge for this program.”

With all of the summer achievements aside, Wayman knows it’s time to focus on recovery before he hits the mat for his final year with the Vols.

However, his rehab time won’t solely be about him.

“I kind of learn by teaching other people,” Wayman said. “I really have to think about it more and this little break from wrestling will help me teach some of the guys that didn’t get to do all the stuff that I got to do.”

But once he is back to full health, Wayman has his sights set high after taking third place at 145 pounds during the 2019 AIA Division III State Wrestling Championship.

“State championship – got to have it this year,” Wayman said. “As long as I stay at the pace I’ve been training, I know I’ll have it.”

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