Ocoee High junior Jordan Phillips has become a force on the mat for the school’s wrestling team in the heavyweight division. Last year, after just missing qualifying for states, Phillips made his first appearance at states after finishing runner-up at this year’s Class 3A, Region 1 wrestling tournament.
When did you first get into wrestling?
My freshman year, when I was at Olympia — before I transferred to Ocoee — and one of the football coaches happened to be a wrestling coach, (as well). It was like, “Hey, man, you should come out and you should do wrestling.” So I came out that same day for conditioning, because the season hadn’t started yet. I tried out, learned a couple of moves — and the football season had ended — and then the wrestling season started. I went to my first tournament at Windermere High School, and I ended up loving it. That same year, I won the JV Metros, so that was pretty cool.
What has kept you motivated to stay in the sport?
The competition and then me knowing there are ups and downs and everything. My goal is to go to states and win states, but it’s more so just finish strong.
What’s your favorite part about wrestling? What’s the biggest challenge?
I’d probably say my favorite part about wrestling is when I get a take down, because then I know I have the advantage. Then the most challenging part about wrestling would be — when it comes to tournaments and stuff like that — if I lose a match, it will be a little challenging trying to come back. Whereas in football, if you lose in the playoffs, you’re completely done, but when it comes to wrestling in the tournaments, if you lose a match in the tournament, you have to get your mind clear … because you have another match coming up.
How do you bounce back from a loss?
It’s really just motivation. My coach has a saying: “If you lose, then win the next best thing.” I really just look forward to winning the next best thing — if that’s third place, then I gotta win third place by any means.
Is there a highlight moment for your during your time wrestling?
I would have to say regionals this year. When I was wrestling in the semifinals, I had beat this kid from Bartram Trail, and this kid had to be at least 6-foot-6 — I’m 6-foot-4 — and every bit of 285, and I just remember the dude looked like a grown man. ... He was a senior, and the dude was already committed and everything, so going into the match, I knew I had to bring my “A” game. So when I beat him, it was just a moment of excitement and relief, but at the same time — in my head — I knew, “OK, the job isn’t done yet.”