Seeded second to Luke McGurrin, a returning state champ at Jacksonville Bolles, Harmer started out with a 15-second pin of Greg Schultz of Orlando Phillips. He followed that up with a pin in 1:58 against Matt Adams of Fleming Island . In the quarterfinals, he recorded his third first-period in a row by decking Juan Pantjas of Orlando Timber Creek in just 46 seconds.
In the semifinals, he stuck Max Piasecki of Jensen Beach , the number one ranked wrestler in Class 1A. And in the Championship Finals, he pinned Levi Clemons of Kissimmee Osceola in 1:42. Clemons is the number one ranked wrestler in Class 3A and was a USA Wrestling Cadet National Champion in Greco-Roman wrestling last summer in Fargo.
Ryland Wagner, Harmer's coach at Gainesville High was not surprised by Harmer's selection based on his success against such a talented field.
"This year, he won Durant, Capital City , Jarzynka tournaments and now Flagler," said Wagner. "We knew it was going to be a good weight class with McGurrin, [Eric] Minich of Clay, Piasecki of Jensen Beach and Levi Clemons of Osceola. He was second seed behind McGurrin, Max Piasecki was third seed and [Jessey] Lorentsen of Springstead was seeded fourth."
Most observers figured Harmer and Clemons to be seeded first and second but since the seeding included recognition of last year's state champion, Osceola withdrew it request for a seed for Clemons, figuring they had a 50-50 chance of Clemons being on the opposite side of the brackets from Harmer, thus avoiding a semifinal pairing between Harmer and Clemons such as occurred at the Jarzynka.
It turned as planned by Osceola as Clemons was drawn into the top bracket opposite Harmer and faced McGurrin in the quarterfinals. The result was a pin for Clemons in 3:20. In the semifinals, Clemons won by a 17-1 technical fall against Lorentsen, setting up the hoped for finals.
Wagner and Harmer worked together on what their strategy would be for Clemons which pretty much what they attempt to have happen in every match, getting a win by a pin using Harmer's signature move, the cross-face cradle.
"The goal is to get him on top since he has pinned pretty much everybody," said Wagner. "We wanted to go out and get the first takedown. If he gets a takedown, then it just gives him more time to work in his favorite position. He has got it down. He bumps into their hips until they go over, and that's it. That's what he does every time. Jacob has his routine down. He figured out what works for him, and pretty much sticks with his routine."
According to Wagner, Harmer's success over the past four years has had an impact on the style of wrestling at Gainesville High.
"He has really molded our team. When Nick Davis was here, we were all takedown. Nick had 190 takedowns. When Travis Hoffman was the team leader and we were state runner ups, all the kids watched him and wanted to emulate him.
Now Jacob has emerged as our best wrestler. He has 123 pins in his career and probably 110 of him are from cradles. Now all the kids have bought into that style.
What is funny to me, last year Kyle Brooks led our team with just 55 takedowns, now we see the big shift from getting a whole lot of takedowns to getting cross face cradles for pins. It's a nice good of thing, I kind of enjoy it. I'm still not used to picking top, but since it has come to some great results, they see Jacob use it all the time. He has been wrestling really well so it has been a fun ride," said Wagner.
When told he voted as named as the Wrestler of the Week, Harmer was pleasantly pleased.
"I think it is awesome. It's nice to know that other people are recognizing me. Not just my own teammates and in my own county but statewide," said Harmer.
Harmer started wrestling when he was just five years old. Why so young?
"My Dad got me interested in it," said Harmer. "He was a wrestler and it teaches you life's lessons. It teaches you hard work. He always taught the work ethic and that hard work will eventually produce results."
Even though he was born in Gainesville, Harmer had his first wrestling up in Michigan where the family lived for three years before returning to Gainesville.
Back home in Gatorville, he started wrestling at the Boys Club under Coach Jeff Davis for three or four years. Then when he started to come to the high school, he was coached by Wagner.
After so many years in the sport, Harmer still has a love for wrestling.
"I feel it gives me something to be responsible for. That and I am a very competitive person, I love to win. I love wrestling because it is an individual sport and you can't blame anybody for a loss."
Harmer is also motivated by something he has yet to achieve. The top of the list of goals is winning a state title.
"Looking back at the last two years, not winning it, I want to be the best not second best or third best. I've made it to the semis twice those were the only loss in each of the last two years. Obviously I wasn't deserving," said Harmer.
Asked why is that so important?
"In high school that is what you work to achieve, the top of the line is winning a state title," says Harmer.
Looking ahead for this season, Gainesville has only a few more events. This week, they compete in the Ippolito tourney at Brandon . Then they have the Gainesville City Championships. The regular season ends with a dual at their cross-town rivals at Buchholz.
Then, the three weeks of the FHSAA State Series follows. The Class 2A District 4 tourney is at Vanguard High in Ocala . The following weekend, the Region 1 tourney is at Crestview out on the panhandle. If things go as planned, Harmer will hope to get to the top of the podium at the State Finals in Lakeland on February 20 & 21.
Beyond that, Harmer plans to wrestle in College, hopefully at a school with an NCAA Division 1 wrestling program.
"I visited three schools so far, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and UTC [University of Tennessee at Chattanooga]," said Harmer "I am probably going to wait to take two more visits, and am considering looking at Purdue and Missouri."
He interested in a school with an academic program that offers something in the medical or a related field like health and exercise, physical therapy or sports medicine.
Coach Wagner provided some insight into Harmer's college selection process and how he balances that with achieving his goal of winning a state high school title.
"Jacob does an excellent job of keeping himself focused. A lot of college coaches have asked this very same question and I will give you the same answer we gave them. Jacob has had to work hard for everything he has got in wrestling. He hasn't been an all-everything since he was a little kid. He hasn't won national titles or even a state title. Being nationally ranked is a new experience for him. He still has a lot to prove in his mind.
As far as the college experience goes he has several schools in mind. One of the most important things to him is that the school has a program of study that interests him. He knows that there is no NFL of wrestling to go to after college. You will have to ask him what he specifically wants to go into but I know it has something to do with the medical field. So far he has taken 3 official visits, Virginia , Virginia Tech and UTC. He had a great time on all of them but wanted to focus on his senior season instead of signing early so he decided to wait until spring. Since that time Purdue and Missouri have moved way up the list and he has a trip scheduled to visit Purdue soon after the season is over.
Jacob does a great job of researching a school when I let him know about it. I can tell you that the recruiting process is wide open. He has some places that he likes and dislikes but is no way set in stone yet. American U would be a great place for him academically and athletically, especially with Josh Glenn as an assistant coach."
Looking ahead to the state tourney, Harmer feels that his top competition will come out of Region 2.
"According to the [Scout.com] rankings, its Antonio Talley, of Dunedin ," said Harmer. "I Iost to him last year in the All Star Duals at Brandon in overtime. I hadn't practiced. I was out of shape.
We'll see who comes out of Brandon . We are going to Ippolito this week, I guess we'll see who they put out there this weekend."
In closing Harmer was given the opportunity for a shout out to those who are important to him.
"Just thank my coach Ryland and put in there my family, My Mom, my sister Brooke and my Dad."
Jacob Harmer's Stats at Gainesville High School
Senior: 33-0 with 26 pins at 171
Junior: 57-1 with 42 pins, 3rd Place at 171 in Class 2A
Sophomore: 51-1 with 30 pins, 3rd Place at 160 in Class 2A
Freshman: 47-8 with 25 pins, State Qualifier at 130
Career totals: 188-10 with 123 pins and counting.
National Tournament Placements
5th at NHSCA Open 9th Grade Division
2nd NHSCA Open High School Division
8-1 with 8 pins at the Dixie Duals
7-1 at the NHSCA East Coast Duals
13-0 Disney Duals with 11 pins
5th at Super 32