Jacob Erickson embodies what it means to be a multi-sport athlete at the high school level.
It didn’t matter if the setting was the football field, wrestling mat or baseball diamond. The Glacier Peak High School senior excelled at whatever he did.
Erickson stood out as an ironman on the football field playing on both the offensive and defensive lines, earning first-team All-Wesco 4A honors on both sides of the ball.
In wrestling, he showed off his skills during a dominant 29-1 season that included 20 pins and ended with a Class 4A state title in the 220-pound weight class.
And during the spring Erickson was a consistent force on the baseball diamond while playing a premium defensive position at catcher, securing a first-team All-Wesco 4A nod along the way.
For his standout senior seasons in all three sports, Erickson is The Herald’s 2021-22 Boys High School Athlete of the Year.
“When we talk about (multi-sport athletes), we talk about guys that are exactly what Jacob has done,” GP football coach Shane Keck said.
Erickson’s excellence started with Keck and the Grizzlies on the gridiron.
He anchored the offensive line as the team’s center, a position he started at for three seasons. That meant on each play Erickson had the responsibility of analyzing the defense and knowing whether or not to audible play directions or protection schemes.
Keck couldn’t think of anyone who’s done it better for the Grizzlies.
“He’s super intelligent and knew our offense as good as any kid we’ve ever had,” Keck said. “Huge shoes to fill for us because he did so much on the offensive line in communicating all the checks and changes. He was it for us.”
And often times Erickson, who stands a 6-foot and 210 pounds, would be matched up against defensive linemen that outweighed him by at least 50 pounds — sometimes closer to 100. But he made up the disparity in size with athleticism, technique, pound-for-pound strength and sheer determination.
“I think it’s just his toughness and his willingness and desire to compete,” Keck said. “He loves to match up and mix it up with the biggest and toughest guy, and I think that showed up in his wrestling and everything else he did because he just wants to compete every day, whether it’s in practice or in games or in camps.”
For as good as Erickson was on offense, he was just as good on defense, racking up 10 sacks, five tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
That touchdown — a return of about 70 yards — helped the Grizzlies beat Skyline in the Week 10 playoffs and earn their first state tournament berth as a 4A program. It was also the first TD Erickson had scored since he started playing football at age 6.
“As a senior class and not only for myself, I think it was really encouraging to see,” Erickson said of making it to state in football. “Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted to (Glacier Peak suffered a stunning loss the next week to Bothell after leading by 21 points in the second half). But the program’s going in the right direction. We left it better than how we found it.”
Erickson, who was named to The Herald’s All-Area teams on offense and defense, said his training in wrestling helped immensely on the football field.
“Especially for the positions I played, (wrestling) definitely helps a lot with your hands, your feet, your ability to handle weight,” he said. “You just have to know how to use your body and your weight in a good way.”
Erickson’s wrestling season that followed was nearly perfect.
He won titles at three regular-season tournaments and a whopping 17 of his 29 wins came against wrestlers who qualified for their respective state tournament.
And the senior’s title run at Mat Classic never seemed to be in doubt. He won one match by decision, one by major decision and two by pinfall, including an impressive showing in the finals when pinned Curtis’ Johnathon Gressett at the 1:24 mark of the first round.
“I was expecting it just because you’ve always got to expect the best out of yourself,” Erickson said. “You can’t expect the worst, because then you don’t have a good mindset going into the match. So I was just like ‘I’m gonna go out there and finish this match as fast as I can and be smart with my wrestling, be crisp and concise.’ I just went out there and executed.”
Erickson, who qualified for state as a freshman wrestling at 170 pounds, said his wrestling coaches instilled confidence in him early on. When he was a freshman, Erickson was told he had the potential to be a state champion.
“Jacob’s very explosive,” GP wrestling coach Bryan Mossburg told 1380 KRKO’s Prep Sports Weekly in an interview on Feb. 21. “It’s a bit deceiving. He’s probably the fastest guy in the room. As big as he is, that’s scary when he’s coming at you. He’s definitely one those guys that you want to have your laces tight, because when he gets that momentum going, he’s going to take you for a ride.
“He’s put in the work over the years, lifting in the mornings and he took on a lot on his own during COVID where he was finding time to get into the weight room and do the work. And I think it showed on the mat.”
Erickson batted .302 while helping GP’s baseball team to a 12-10 record in the spring.
Grizzlies baseball coach Bob Blair said his catcher’s leadership had a big impact on the team.
“All the guys respected him for what he’d done as a wrestler and looked to him for what it meant to work hard,” Blair said.
“The catcher is the coach on the field,” Blair added. “So, having Jake understand what was going on and the other guys trusting his decision making and stuff like that makes a big difference.”
Erickson quipped that his favorite of the three sports is whichever one is in season. He’s played each for 12 years.
His dedication to continue on with all through high school is refreshing for his coaches considering it’s becoming more and more common for athletes to focus on one sport at younger ages.
“We push the idea continually that multi-sport athletes are nice to have,” Blair said. “They not only physically are diverse, but also they learn certain things in other sports that they can bring to each different sport.”
“It’s something that we really believe in,” Keck said. “It’s not that it necessarily directly affects our football program, but I think it affects our school and ultimately it’s better for the kids.”
Erickson also excelled in the classroom while navigating his year-round sports schedule. His grade-point average: 3.811. He plans to study civil engineering at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. He’ll also play football for the NCAA Division III school and said the door is open for him to try and play baseball there as well.
As for his favorite memories of his high school sports career? It’s the people he connected with along the way.
“Honestly, I’ll remember some of the moments within the sports, but a lot of the things I’ll remember don’t really have to do with the sports,” Erickson said. “A lot of it is the memories I have with my teammates, going to football camp at Central (Washington University), … morning workouts in wrestling. In baseball, it’s kind of just that messing around.
“Sports will always be there, but it’s more going to be the memories I made with my teammates.”
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