Back-to-back medal winner sets sights on 2020 Olympics
FRIENDSWOOD – Just how special a young man is Brad Rains?
“I’ll tell you what. If I had a daughter, he’s the kind of young man I would want her to date,” Mustangs wrestling coach Michael Lowe said.
Rains is a very special student-athlete, one that also is the back-to-back Class 4A wrestling champion in the 170-pound division.
Since arriving from Oregon almost three years ago, he has helped change the school’s wrestling program to one of the most respected in a state where the sport is slowly but surely gaining ground.
“It was a lot different getting adjusted to the Texas style of wrestling,” said Rains, who has been a mat rat since he was a young boy growing up near Eugene, Ore. “The kids here are real strong and it was amazing to see how athletic they are.”
Lowe had heard of the wrestling exploits in Oregon of Rains and his older brother, Eric, yet it wasn’t until near the end of district play during Brad’s junior season that the coach saw just what kind of talent he had on his roster. Rains had suffered a broken jaw during football season and had been sidelined until then.
“It turns out that what I had read about them in Oregon was very true,” Lowe said.
Rains breezed through district play and romped to his first state title, defeating Amarillo Caprock’s Armando Pallares in a victory that also marked the first wrestling title for the Friendswood program.
He was more dominant this season, rolling undefeated while also not allowing a point until his state championship win over Dripping Springs’ Luke Hodsen in a 7-4 victory.
“I got a little foolish,” Rains said. “I tried a move that I wasn’t too strong with, and it cost me.”
An honor roll student and an Eagle Scout, Rains will next compete in the state tournament in Dallas this May. From there, he will compete in Fargo, N.D., where he will take on the best of his peers.
“My work ethic got stronger once I got here,” Rains said. “I really worked harder this year because I knew that every time I got on the mat, my opponent would be gunning for me.”
College wrestling programs in Texas have yet to come on the scene for bigger schools, which has left Rains’ options limited. While he is planning to attend Baylor, both he and Lowe are exploring options that will allow him to wrestle.
“He’s got something special,” Lowe said. “I hope that he can get a chance to compete at the top level. He’s got the potential to work his way up toward competing in the (2020) Olympics.”
“It’s in my blood,” Rains said. “My parents (Desmond and Denesa) have always encouraged us to be the best we can in all that we do. I’m definitely going to continue. The Olympics is something I’d like to do, but I want to focus on my education in the immediate future.”
Regardless of what direction his path goes, Rains’ future — both on and off the mat — is very bright.
“It’s no question that losing him is going to be difficult,” Lowe said. “I tell the younger kids that if you want to go somewhere, you do what Brad does. I don’t think I’ll have a Brad Rains coming to our program anytime soon.”
Love of wrestling changed Clear Springs senior’s life
LEAGUE CITY – Cassidy Jasperson’s love for wrestling is one that has changed her life, changes, she said, that go far beyond winning the girls’ state championship.
“It’s more than just a sport for me,” the Clear Springs senior said. “It has made me more disciplined, has kept me out of trouble and has always allowed me to stay focused in everything.”
Jasperson captured the state crown in the 119-pound division last month when she defeated Luciana Schement of Plano East.
The win capped off a dominating 42-1 campaign for Jasperson while also providing her with an additional measure of satisfaction; Schement topped Jasperson in the second round of last year’s tourney, a setback that only made the already-dedicated Jasperson work even harder.
Defeating Schement in a convincing, 9-3 decision, capped off the biggest goal Jasperson had envisioned almost from the moment she became involved in the sport before her freshman year at Springs.
“I was really in shock,” she said about winning the title. “This was everything I had worked for, and I had that feeling of everything you work has just become a reality. That was a pretty cool feeling.”
Jasperson’s path to destiny in Garland was keyed by the support and efforts of her mother, Kimberly Lea.
A single parent, Lea has helped her daughter not only with moral support, but by her ability to make the sacrifices necessary to assure Jasperson would be able to make club meets along with the other financial efforts that she required.
“She knows this is what I live for, and she has sacrificed a lot,” Jasperson said.
Jasperson’s love of wrestling is a natural attraction. Her father wrestled at the University of California and also participated in Olympic trials, a goal Jasperson has dreams of achieving herself.
“It’s definitely an option,” she said of pursuing a spot on the 2020 Olympic squad. “I know this is something I would really love to do.”
In the immediate future, Jasperson — who works out up to seven hours a day — will continue to prepare for the next step in her career, a trip to Fargo, N.D., for nationals this summer.
Jasperson will also continue to look for a college that will allow her to continue wrestling. She has listed Lyon College (Arkansas) and Menlo College (California) as two of her top choices.
“I can’t stay away from it for long,” Jasperson said. “I gave myself a weekend off, and I’m already looking forward to getting back to the mat.”