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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Jaxson Savieo of New Haven has his hand raised after defeating Luers' Mitch Gigli 3-2 in the sectional finals Saturday at New Haven.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Jonyvan Johnson of New Haven wrestles against Cameron Christen of Snider on Saturday at the New Haven Sectional.  

Friday, February 02, 2018 1:00 am

Bulldogs make each other better

Johnson, Savieo hope extra work ends in state titles

Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette

Area Regionals


Top four in each weight class advance to semistate.

Carroll, 9 a.m. – Feeder sectionals: Carroll, New Haven; defending champion: Carroll (current streak – 5)

Goshen, 9:30 a.m. – Feeder sectionals: Elkhart Memorial, Westview; defending champion: Prairie Heights

Jay County, 8:30 a.m. – Feeder sectionals: Delta, Jay County; defending champion: Yorktown (current streak – 4)

*Penn, 9:30 a.m. – Feeder sectionals: Mishawaka, Plymouth; defending champion: Penn (current streak – 7)

(*–regional at Rochester in 2017)

Admission: $7

Sometimes, you just know. You find the right person and that partnership helps each other reach greater heights than what's achievable individually.

Prior to their freshman year at New Haven, Jonyvan Johnson and Jaxson Savieo sized each other up, quickly realizing they could do more working together. While no written document exists, the Bulldogs formed a pact that's paying off.

“(We) decided freshman year that no matter what happens, we were going to push each other to be the best,” Johnson said. “We've been in the weight room, on the mats, the track, the football fields, anything we can do to help each other get better.”

Johnson (182 pounds) and Savieo (195) claimed individual titles for the second straight year at the New Haven Sectional on Saturday. With just one loss apiece, the teammates look poised to make a deep postseason run.

One victory Saturday at the Carroll Regional assures a semistate berth. But with four grueling years of training – during practice and after – their sights ultimately focus on two Saturdays from now, under the spotlight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, competing in the state championship match.

“That's what I wish for every day,” Johnson said. “I pray for it every night, and I'm working for it. There's no doubt in my mind that if I keep working as hard as I am, I'll be on top.”

To reach that goal, Johnson and Savieo push each other during practice each day. After practice ends? That's when the real work commences.

Early in the week, their post-training workouts last another 60 minutes. They dial the additional reps down as the weekend approaches, though it's still an extra 30-45 minutes of shooting drills, wind sprints, calisthenics – whatever it takes to get better.

“I just have to keep my head down and keep pushing myself further and further and further,” Savieo said.

As four-year training partners, Johnson and Savieo can almost predict what move the other will perform in any number of practice situations. As for which one's the better wrestler? Johnson had to pause and smile before responding.

“Everyone has their good and bad days,” he said. “He puts me on my back, sometimes I put him on his back. Sometimes I take him down all day, sometimes he takes me down all day.”

While that familiarity doesn't always lend itself to a surprise maneuver, Johnson admitted that in many cases, their weeknight matches in the New Haven practice room are harder than their bouts against opponents from other schools.

As the postseason progresses, that won't continue to be true. Savieo eked out a 3-2 decision over Bishop Luers' Mitch Gigli in the sectional finals, a match that both entered with just one loss all year.

Moving forward, the training may cycle down ever so slightly in an effort to replenish the body. It's the mind that gets more focus, more training now.

“(I have to) take care of my body more and get my mind right,” Savieo said. “My body is fine-tuned right now, I'm a well-oiled machine. I just have to get my head right. That's what it comes down to.”