Routsong brothers reunite at Embry Riddle

BROTHERS Jesse Routsong, 18, left, and Jeff, 22, stand in the wrestling room at Ponderosa High School. Cameron park Life photo by Shelly Thorene

SHINGLE SPRINGS — When Jesse Routsong returned to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz, last month for his second year of college and his second wrestling season, he had more than new clothes and school supplies with him. His brother Jeff is going as a new recruit.

Like most brothers after high school, Jesse and Jeff went different directions — Jesse became a full-time college student and wrestler while Jeff trained and took courses to become a fireman. With full, separate slates in different locations, spending time together was limited to holidays and school breaks like this summer when Jesse came back home to Sleepy Hollow.

That has all changed. Thanks to a unique situation Jeff took advantage of earlier this year, the brothers will now live, car pool, eat, sleep, shop, practice and compete together as roommates and teammates.

Jeff hadn’t seen Jesse since he’d left for school but knew from their long distance conversations that Jesse loved Embry Riddle and college competition. When the Embry Riddle team was scheduled to compete at Menlo College in the Bay Area, Jeff went to watch and was invited by Jesse’s coach to participate in a pre-match practice. The program had lost its heavyweight earlier in the season and needed a replacement.

“The coach liked my technique and foundation and afterward said he wanted to talk to me about coming out to the school … and it went from there,” Jeff said before he left. “He saw I had some type of talent. I never thought I’d get this opportunity — I’m super excited and also lucky. I’ll just have to work a shorter (fire) season because now I’m committed to getting an education and wrestling.”

Jesse’s wrestling resumé, which included four years of varsity wrestling, qualifying twice for the state meet, acting as the Bruin captain two years, and membership in Ponderosa Wrestling’s 150 Win Club, punched his ticket to an academic and athletic scholarship.

Jeff didn’t plan on trying to wrestle in college. With a 17-17 record in his only varsity season, he focused on following in his dad’s footsteps and becoming a fireman.

“It was the opposite direction for me after graduation — work instead of school. Growing up, I saw how my dad did his job and it was something I really wanted to do,” Jeff said.

Jeff went through the Sacramento Regional Fire Academy and earned a position with the U.S. Forest Service and later with Cal Fire. But he stayed connected with wrestling, accepting a role as the junior varsity coach at Ponderosa for Bruin head coach Tyson Escobar.

“That’s probably the most fun I’ve had,” Jeff said. “It was a blast working with the kids and had it not been for the Embry Riddle opportunity, I would have definitely continued. Coaching helped me get back into shape. I like to get out there on the mat and demonstrate what I’m talking about so I was wrestling everyday.”

Jesse was 19-10 in his first season of college wrestling, 4-0 in dual meets. At 149 pounds, he wrestled behind a sophomore who had been an All American as a freshman.

“I was just happy to get the matches. There’s a huge change wrestling in college — the way I see it, it’s my job now,” Jesse said. “Although it was a tough first year, things fell into place and I’m happy with the way it ended. Going forward I know how hard I have to work and how much I need to put into it.”

Jesse ran across some Bruin alumni on the college circuit including Paul Buchanan and Kenny Steers (Grand Canyon College), Justin Durham (Cal State Bakersfield) and Gaaret Marinelli (Sacramento City College).

Jesse spent his summer recovering repair of a meniscus and interning for the Central California Intelligence Center at the Sacramento Regional Threat Assessment Center.

“It’s a great resumé builder, getting to work with an agency I could possibly work with in the future,” Jesse said.

Both brothers will major in Global Security and Intelligence Studies. Jesse, who graduated from Ponderosa in 2010, will be a sophomore while Jeff, class of  ’07, will be a freshman.

It’s a scenario — a good one — that parents, Jeff Sr. and Kristin, will most likely enjoy explaining to family and friends.

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Posted by on Sep 1 2011.
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