COLUMBIA — Jaydin Clayton never planned on winning a state championship. In fact, he never even planned to wrestle in high school at all. His wrestling dreams were much grander than that.
So winning this year’s 113-pound Class 1 wrestling state championship for Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School last weekend wasn't the completion of a longtime goal. Things just fell into place.
Clayton's father and uncle had been wrestlers and his family got Clayton started in the sport at age 5. He has continued to improve to a point where making an Olympic wrestling team is something he thinks he can do.
Shortly after he started to wrestle, he met Mike Eierman, a coach who runs the Eierman Elite Wrestling gym in Columbia. Eierman coached Clayton all through grade school.
When it came time for Clayton to go to high school, he didn't plan on joining a school team. He had planned to work with Eierman and focus on making the 2016 Olympic team.
"I went to Tolton to challenge myself academically," Clayton said. "I didn't even know they had wrestling until I got there."
When he found out that Tolton, which opened this fall, had hired Mike Eierman's brother, Tony Eierman, to coach its wrestling team, joining the Trailblazers' team was an easy decision.
Tony Eierman taught a wrestling style similar to his brother's , making it an easy transition from the freestyle wrestling that is used in the Olympics and that Clayton was used to.
"He has trained for so long with Mike that I got to sit back and let Jaydin do what Jaydin does," Tony Eierman said.
Wrestling at Tolton turned out to be a decision that would give Clayton a lot of success. Clayton, only a freshman, had a remarkable 33-0 record and won every match in the state tournament by pin or technical fall.
Clayton was able to accomplish this in a unique environment.
Tolton's team had only two other wrestlers and neither of them had any previous wrestling experience. Often, Tony Eierman would have to step in and wrestle during practice.
"Going into some tournaments only having three kids when others have 20, people would look at you funny," Tony Eierman said. "But at the end of every tournament, other coaches would tell me how impressed they were with all our wrestlers, not just Jaydin."
Jaydin plans to continue training this summer with Mike Eierman and hone his freestyle technique, keeping his Olympic dreams in mind. Now, however, he has a new goal — to expand Tolton's wrestling program.
"I hope that people saw that in Tolton's first year we had a state championship and other wrestlers will want to come here," Clayton said.
Tony Eierman is confident that Columbia wrestlers will want to come to Tolton so they can enjoy success similar to Clayton's.
Clayton has also thought of the idea of having a perfect high school career, but he said he's not focused on that yet.
"My goal was to win state my freshman year and doing that was a big step," Clayton said.