Barnegat Leader

Griffin Jackstadt: Barnegat Big Guy Ready for More Big Things

Entering His Prime in Football, Wrestling
By DAVID BIGGY | Nov 15, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy ROLE MODEL: Griffin Jackstadt’s football coach remarks, “He’s a smart kid, and he can be trusted to do his job.”

Barnegat — Griffin Jackstadt doesn’t seem to mind taking on roles that don’t typically receive the most acclaim. Let’s face it: Not a lot of people think much about the football linemen, wrestling heavyweights or the track and field throwers.

“Last season, our offensive line was the offensive MVP, so that was something to get pumped up about,” said the senior whose high school football career ended Nov. 7, when the Bengals won a 13-6 NJSIAA “regional crossover” game against Middle Township. “But otherwise, I have a job to do and I just get it done. I’m a setup guy. I do what I have to do so the rest of the guys can do what they have to do. I take a lot of pride in being in these types of positions.”

During the past two years, Jackstadt became a stalwart workhorse for the Bengals, particularly on the football field and wrestling mat. He’s not only big, powerful and aggressive, but also smart and coachable. He takes his roles seriously and does all the little things to improve.

“He’s a great kid,” said football coach Rob Davis. “He has the respect of other people because he does everything right and he’s a good role model. He’s a smart kid, and he can be trusted to do his job.”

That was never more evident than last winter. After developing into one Davis’ better linemen during the fall, Jackstadt started the wrestling season as a junior varsity backup at heavyweight.

“I lost the first wrestle-off, then got into the weight room after every practice, got bigger and stronger, and then came back and beat the kid in a second wrestle-off,” he said. “My goal was to make varsity and I worked hard to do it. I was ready to run at that point.”

He ran with it, all right. He finished 29-7, became the fourth Bengal in program history to win an NJSIAA district championship, placed fourth in Region VIII and then went 2-2 in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall during the NJSIAA State Championships.

He followed up his successful wrestling season with a solid track and field season as the Bengals’ No. 2 shot put thrower behind Sean Morris, who graduated in June, ending up seventh in Ocean County and NJSIAA South Jersey Group II.

This fall, Jackstadt was one of the team captains. On defense, his season compiled 75 tackles, 12 hurries and a pair of sacks. During his two seasons of varsity football, he accumulated 100 tackles.

“He’s a great leader,” Davis said. “When he talks, people listen because he’s a do-as-I-do kind of guy. He’s played center, guard and tackle on the offensive line, and nose guard and end on the defensive line. He does whatever is needed of him, and he does it well. He’s going to be successful in life, with whatever he does.”

Whatever’s in store for the upcoming wrestling season, nobody knows. But whatever occurs, the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder – who took up wrestling in eighth grade after being cut by the Russell O. Brackman Middle School basketball coach following tryouts the previous two years – wants to make it big.

“I’m ready to do stuff nobody’s done in the wrestling program,” he said. “I’m the only one to ever win a match at the state tournament, so now I’m looking to place at states at this point.”

Not surprising, Jackstadt’s success the past few seasons, on all surfaces, has built up his confidence. Now, as a senior soon to be heading off to college, he knows he can do just about anything as long as he stays healthy.

“When I have success in one season, it gives me confidence for the other,” he said. “When you go out there, you have to be confident you’re better than the guy across from you. Especially with football and wrestling, it’s you versus one guy and you’re trying to move him and take him down. Every down on the football field, every time I get on the mat, it’s the same. But if you don’t believe you can do it, you’re not going to do well.”

As for college, Griffin has committed to the University of Pennsylvania, where he plans to play football rather than wrestle.

“I can play football at that level, but wrestling at that level is a whole other animal,” said Jackstadt, who sports a 4.4 grade-point average, is a National Honor Society member and ranked 27th in Barnegat’s senior class. “I decided at the end of August. I was down to UPenn, Yale and Fordham, but I just loved UPenn so much more. I loved the campus, the coaches are really good, and everything about it was great. All the players already seemed like brothers.”

The only thing he has left to decide is what to do with his life beyond college.

“I have a couple of years to decide that,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with my future. I like math, so maybe I’ll do something with that. Maybe I’ll go into coaching. That’s something I definitely might have an interest in. I’ll figure it all out at some point.”

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