As long as he can remember, Jackson Esping has wanted to wrestle for Southwest Minnesota State University.
The Minneota senior's wish came to fruition recently when he committed to wrestling for the Mustangs this winter.
"I didn't have a clue, though, if I was going to go to SMSU until I went on my wrestling visit on April 15," said the personable Esping. "It helped my decision knowing the coaches well and having wrestled for Joel (Skillings, the former Minneota head coach) before.
Esping is a two-time state individual wrestler and an outstanding two-way lineman in football player.
"When I sat down and thought about football and wrestling and what I would like to do at the next level," he said, "I had to think of all the great coaching I have had from every level, the success I had in all of them, and what would fit me best in college. I had to think about what I wanted later in life and what sport my body would fit better in. That's how I decided on wrestling."
Esping did get some offers from other schools for wrestling or football.
"My three top schools were SMSU, Northern State and Moorehead State, all for wrestling," he noted. "I am super excited to be wrestling in college at the Division II level. I like the team a lot and know them from either golfing or being around them. The worry of picking a place I want to be at for at least for four or more years is very relieving."
Esping qualified for state in wrestling in both his junior and senior years. He placed fifth as a junior at 220 pounds. He dealt with various injuries his senior year and missed a majority of the wrestling season. He fought through the injuries and returned to the mats late in the season and, despite having only 10 matches under his belt, captured the Section 3A title at 285 pounds. Still not 100 percent, Esping advanced to the state tournament but did not place.
Wrestling on varsity since eighth grade, Esping finished his prep wrestling career with a 93-52 record.
Strong and aggressive, Esping was also a three-year starter for the Vikings in football as a two-way tackle. The Vikings won a state title his sophomore year and finished second this past fall. There was no state tournament his junior year, although the Vikings did win the Section 5A crown.
Esping is planning to major in Accounting at SMSU.
"I would like to either coach in college or work for a company being an accountant," he said. "I would also like to coach high school football or wrestling."

Jackson Esping

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