A-K Valley senior spotlight: Highlands’ Jrake Burford

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Monday, January 3, 2022 | 10:34 AM


Jrake Burford

Highlands wrestling

Jrake Burford has built quite a collection of wrestling medals and accomplishments during his career.

Before reaching high school, he was a two-time All-American who placed seventh at the prestigious Greco-Roman Nationals at Fargo, N.D.

Since then, the Highlands senior has been a section and WPIAL runner-up, and he has set his sights on capping his high school career this winter with a PIAA medal.

“To at least be a state medalist,” Burford said of his goals for this season.

He is off to a strong start in that pursuit. He won bouts in Highlands’ 43-24 win over Indiana and 42-25 victory over Fox Chapel. The 145-pounder also finished fifth at the season-opening Eastern Area Invitational Wrestling Tournament at Gateway.

He is 4-2 this season and 80-27 for his career, with 49 pins. A Valley News Dispatch All-Star last season, he took a 12-match win streak into the individual section tournament before losing to Franklin Regional’s Finn Solomon in the finals.

Burford stepped off the mats for a few minutes for an A-K Valley senior spotlight Q&A:

How has wrestling season gone so far?

Good so far. Our first tournament was a couple weekends ago at Gateway. I took fifth. I won my past two section matches. It’s gone good so far.

How did you wrestle at the Eastern Area tournament?

I didn’t wrestle terrible. I have room to improve.

What are some things you worked on to get better in the offseason?

Definitely, get my stamina up. I lifted a little more than usual with the football team.

What will it take to reach your goal of earning a PIAA medal?

Working on each little mistake I make each week. I’ve been wrestling my whole life so I know how to wrestle. I just have to critique myself.

How did you get started in wrestling?

It was my stepfather when I was 4 who introduced me to it. I went to Highlands youth wrestling. When I was 13, I wrestled freestyle and Greco and was a two-time All-American and took seventh at Fargo (Nationals).

Have you made plans for next fall?

I’m not decided on where, but I want to wrestle in college. I have offers from Franklin and Marshall, Elizabethtown and Thiel.

Your younger brother Aiden is also on the team. How is he doing?

He’s a freshman. He’s doing good. He wrestles at 132 pounds. We still practice together. We always have.

How did football season go?

I think it was successful. We made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

Besides football, what other activities are you involved in at Highlands?

I run track. I do long jump, high jump, the 100 and the 4-by-100 relay.

What is something people might not know about you?

I highly enjoy riding dirt bikes. A couple summers ago, I raced dirt bikes in the woods. Most of the time I ride in Upper Burrell.

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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