Jonathan Melton’s early success is just the beginning

by Rob Logsdon, reporter

Every day at 4 p.m. the Steven Johnson Fitness Center is full of runners on treadmills on the upper level and lifters on the lower level, but if they were to go beneath their feet or behind the wall, they would find a group of some of the toughest men that attend Simpson College: the wrestling team.

Among this team of tough young men is freshman Jonathan Melton from Kansas City, Mo. The 149 lb. grappler had the best record on the team for the month of December. That achievement earned Melton the December Male Athlete of the Month for Simpson.

He boasted an 8-3 record on the month and beat a top 20 ranked wrestler from Coe College at the Luther Hill Invite at Simpson on December 6th. Melton went on to fall by only two points to the eighth best-ranked wrestler in the nation when the team went to Tennessee over Christmas break.

After Melton found out about the award, his first thought was “I wonder when it was that the last wrestler won the award.” When asked how he felt about the extra attention, Melton said, “I’m not big into attention. I’m not a big fan, but it’s okay.”

Melton credits his success to his youth and high school programs that allowed him to wrestle people from various parts of the nation, and his Simpson coaches who have helped him improve his craft since arriving here.

“My goal in practice is to fix something every day,” Melton said.

Head wrestling coach Nate Hansen says this goal is evident in Melton’s work ethic in the wrestling room.

“He has a very workman-like attitude when it comes to practice. He came from a top-ranked high school program and he knows what hard work is about,” Hansen said.

Melton’s work in the wrestling room has been paying off, but it’s not only his physical work that Melton prides himself on; his mental preparation is just as important.

“I prepare mentally more than physically right before the match,” Melton says. “Even when I’m matched up against ranked wrestlers, to me they’re just another guy to go out and beat. I personally believe I can beat anyone I walk out on the mat to wrestle.”

That’s some massive self-confidence for a freshman to possess, but when the goal is to make nationals, confidence is a must.

Melton may have lofty goals, but Coach Hansen believe he can do it. “It’s not a matter of if, but when, he makes it to the national tournament. I think he’s got the ability to win it eventually,” Hansen stated.

That’s high praise for Melton, but his defensive, keep-it-close style of wrestling is one that is tough to beat.

Melton, a history major with a secondary education minor, is not the only promising young wrestler on the Storm roster this year. Melton’s success is a perfect microcosm of the upward trend of the Storm wrestling program. 

“We are bringing in higher caliber recruits, and once they get here, they’re all improving,” Coach Hansen said. “The older guys are really helping that process, and improving themselves at the same time.”

No matter the Athlete of the Month award, which Melton said was an honor to win, he and the rest of the wrestling team have much higher goals in mind. The team continues to be “On The Rise” and will be showing their power this Saturday, Feb. 7 in Cowles Fieldhouse when they take on Buena Vista University at 7 p.m.