Jeffrey Boyd, or as some of you may know him as the GOAT, The McDowell Legend, or even as the infamous ‘J-DOT,' grew up in a small suburban neighborhood on Feidler Dr, just off of 38th street by his Alma Mater, McDowell High School.
This is the story of Jeffrey Boyd making his absolutely historic run for glory in the 2018 Pennsylvania State Wrestling Tournament.
But, before we begin the tale of this magical journey, let me give you a little bit of background information first. Jeffrey had been wrestling since a young age. From the time he began, he was demolishing friendly foes like his brother Thomas and cousin Aaron. He was destined for greatness. Being as talented as Jeffrey was at such a young age, it was shocking to realize that he had never placed in the loaded wrestling state of PA. This had been a goal of his for as long as he could remember.
In 2017, Jeffrey remembered losing his first two matches at states for the second straight year. This brought him to a career high school mark of 0-4 at Hershey. “I went back to my room and wrote down ‘Jeffrey Boyd : 2018 State Medalist’ just to envision it.” This was his motivation for the next year. From daunting workouts at McDowell, to chilling in his sauna suit back at the crib, he was going to do whatever it took.
So, at the 2018 District-10 Tournament, Jeffery was wrestling for the 3rd time in as many tries for the D-10 crown. After losing the previous year, Jeffrey had a chip on shoulder and was set to face Andrew Stark of Cathedral Prep. After defeating Stark, Jeffrey moved onto the Regional tournament where he knew the competition would stiffen.
The semi-final match, Jeffrey was set to wrestle Dalton Woodrow of Dubois. Woodrow proved to be a worth opponent, but Jeff outlasted him 2-1 to move to the regional final. Here he would face yet another solid opponent, but he was no match for Jeffrey. Jeffrey won the regional tournament, as he expected to do, and was on the way to Hershey before he knew it.
On the road down to states, Boyd recalls listening to a podcast on the brackets, which had just come out. The commentators reviewed the seeding for the 132lb weight class, which Jeffrey was in. They barely wasted their breath mentioning J-DOT and simply stated “Jeffrey Boyd is the 4 seed” after talking up seeds 1-3 for the majority of the discussion. This did nothing but add fuel to the fire.
As previously stated, Jeffrey held a career high school tally of 0-4 at states. He knew that the first match was the biggest for him. Boyd uttered “I knew this was the biggest match for me, just to get that monkey off of my back.”
Match #1: Jeffrey Boyd vs. Garrett Reinsfelder (Shaler)
The week leading up to the tournament, Jeffrey was conducting his own research on his opponent, who he was not too familiar with. While scouting him, Jeffrey learned exactly what Reinsfelder’s go to move was, which was the inside trip. Jeffrey focused in on this and decided to do 30 minute workouts working specifically on defending this move.
Jeffrey did his usual routine which included warming up and stretching out. As the first period began, there was a lot of hand fighting, which is exactly what Jeffrey liked. Boyd was known for his hand fighting throughout his high school career. The match was tied 0-0 after the first period. The second period, Jeffrey had choice, and chose the bottom. Boyd quickly escaped giving him the first advantage of the match at 1-0. He quickly shot after escaping and was able to secure a takedown to lengthen his margin to 3-0 heading into the final 2 minutes. Reinsfelder started down to begin the final period and escaped cutting the deficit to 3-1. This is when Jeffrey’s training came in handy. Reinsfelder immediately went to the inside trip, which Jeffrey knew was going to happen. He was able to avoid it and evade a potential comeback. Boyd had won his first match 3-1.
Match #2: Jeffrey Boyd vs. Devon Britton (Northhampton)
In the state wrestling tournament, if you win your first two matches, you are guaranteed to place. So, for Jeff, this was his ultimate goal. A win here, and he would guarantee a medal. Britton was a tall task for Boyd however. Devon came out firing and immediately gained the advantage on Jeffrey. He quickly head snapped Jeffrey and was able to get a takedown, but Boyd responded with an immediate escape. Jeffrey had a quick glimpse of nervousness here, but was quickly refilled with confidence.
Heading into the second period down 2-1, Jeffrey stated that he was “Getting his ass beat” and knew he had to turn it on if he wanted to secure another victory. Britton chose down, escaped, and extended his lead to 3-1 on the trailing Boyd. To make matters worse, Jeffrey was struck with a stalling warning. This meant that if he were to get another, Britton would be awarded a point.
The final stanza proved to be crucial as the match was still 3-1 in favor of Devon Britton. This is when Jeffrey started to feel the tiredness of Britton kick in. After starting down, Boyd escaped trimming the score to 3-2. Just 10 seconds later, Jeffrey successfully shot and took him down to take his first lead at 4-3. The blood was pumping as Jeffrey told me that he had “no idea how he was winning.” Britton escaped making the match all square at 4. Hand fighting continued before Jeffrey launched another successful attack and took a 6-4 lead with less than a minute left.
After going OB, the two started back in the center with Britton remaining down. Britton quickly tried to roll out and escape, but exposed his back allowing Jeffrey to gain an additional 2 points taking an 8-4 lead. With just 9 seconds left, Jeffrey knew he was on his way to placing. Boyd stood up with tears in his eyes and knew he had achieved his goal – but was not done yet.
Match 3: State Semi-Final – Jeffrey Boyd vs. Andrew Wert (Central Dauphin)
After getting rewarded with the rest of Friday off for starting 2-0, Boyd didn’t have to wrestle until Saturday morning. Jeffrey said at this point he felt destined to win it all. He was not going to let anything stop him. Only one man stood between Jeffrey and the state final; Andrew Wert. A daunting task in the form of the #1 overall seeded 132 pounder in PA. Wert, who is currently wrestling for Army, is very talented to say the least. Jeffrey, although being termed the ‘underdog’ in this match, didn’t even let that cross his mind. He had one goal; win.
While Jeffrey was pretty unaware of Wert’s go to moves and wrestling style, his dad helped him to scout Wert. They spent time watching his film and schemed up what they believed to be a advantageous game plan.
In the first period, Jeffrey made sure to try and limit it to as much hand fighting as possible. This is his style of choice because he believes he can outlast just about anyone in the endurance field. He did so successfully taking the match to the second period at 0-0.
To begin period two, Wert chose to start down. This was the same technique he used in the quarterfinals, which he won 1-0. Once Wert escaped, he held the 1-0 advantage. As the two dueled out the rest of the second period, the score remain the same. This is where it got interesting.
Since Wert was able to ride out his previous opponent for the entirety of the final frame in the previous match, Jeffrey decided not to give him the chance. He chose to begin in neutral, believing that he had the ability to take him down. This technique is seldom used in high school wrestling, as most people simply choose to begin down. The period began with more hand fighting all the way until Jeffrey took a shot with a minute left, but was forced OB and continued to face a 1-0 deficit. Again, Boyd shot with 30 seconds left, this time leading to a scramble for positioning. J-DOT was able to turn into him which completed his takedown giving him the 2-1 advantage with just 16 seconds left. Jeffrey was able to ride out the remaining time. He had done it. Jeffrey was wrestling for the PA AAA State Wrestling Championship.
All Boyd could recall from this crazy moment in time is running over to his dad and hugging him. “It really felt like a movie” Jeff announced to me in a recent interview. In fact, rumor has it that Jeffrey sang the verse “my mind is living on cloud 9 and this 9 is never on vacation” from a Kendrick Lamar song on repeat during this match.
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Jeffrey Boyd vs. Colton Camacho
Now, let me first tell a funny story. While I was watching Jeffrey wrestle in districts for the first time as a freshman, I was kind of a wrestling rookie when it came to knowledge of the sport. Thomas, Jeffrey’s older brother and standout baseball pitcher for Gannon University, was telling me all about the best wrestlers in the state at Jeff’s weight. One name that was brought up was Colton ‘The Italian Stallion’ Camacho. I hung onto this name for some reason. Later that year, I predicted that at some point, Jeffrey would have an upset victory over this European Bronco. Cue the 2018 State Championship match.
Colton was ranked #2 behind Wert in the weight class, but the two were neck and neck for the #1 seeding. Camacho was also nationally ranked at 132. Jeffrey was quoted saying “I mean this is all new to me, I’m just going with it.” Since the gap from the morning semis to the evening championships was so lengthy, Jeffrey knew he had to keep his mind occupied in his hours between. So where else to go besides Chocolate World when you’re in beautiful Hershey, PA?
After spending some down time relaxing with his family at the infamous chocolate factory, the Boyd’s headed back to the Giant Center, where in a few short hours, Jeff would make a run at history.
Jeffrey maintained his normal warmup routine of pacing in the hallway and stretching. He began to watch some matches that were happening before him. Jeffrey remembers thinking to himself “It’s bound to happen.” He was confident in himself, for good reason.
Jeffrey figured that Colton would come out energetic and spazzy, as he usually does in all his matches. For a second the legend, Jeffrey Boyd, had a moment of self-doubt. Imagine that. Unreal. Even GOAT’s feel nerves. As Jeffrey would’ve preferred, the first period consisted yet again of a lot of hand fighting and finished at, you guessed it, 0-0.
Period two is when it got juicy. The Italian Stallion chose to start down. Jeffrey, unlike his usual tactics, decided to be aggressive and ride him harder, trying to not allow the escape. Due to this, Boyd was charged with a stalling warning. However, Camacho did eventually escape and took a 1-0 lead. Also instantly, he took Boyd down to take a commanding 3-0 lead midway through the second. After going OB, Jeffrey was able to escape and cut the lead to two marking it 3-1.
BUT, in the process, Camacho committed a technical violation and locked his hands. This is a 1 point penalty favoring Jeffrey which diminished the lead to 3-2.
This was for all the marbles now. The third period. It all came down to this. Down 3-2, Jeffrey started down. Camacho, surprisingly, let him up without any hesitation essentially. Now the two were tied at 3 apiece. Just a quick 30 seconds into the match, Jeffrey shot and while Camacho tried to roll through, he was unsuccessful. He got the quick 2 points and now had his first lead at 5-4 after Colton unreluctantly escaped. Given that he already had a stalling warning, Jeffrey knew he had to keep wrestling.
Reminiscing on this moment, Jeffrey provided a historic comment. “I mean I wasn’t look to stall, but I was looking to f*****g win.” (I’m gonna be honest folks, this one almost had me in tears.) With just 30 seconds left, Jeffrey battered on taking another risky shot that lead to a stalemate. After regaining vertically, Camacho took another shot, which looked to be promising, but missed his legs. Colton, knowing time was running out, quickly got to his feet. Camacho, attempting one final shot did get Jeffrey, but Boyd went to the splits and he watched the clock tick from 4 to 0.
“I remember just laying there. I think I blacked out because I don’t remember shaking his hand or anything.” This is how Jeffrey described what he would refer to as the best moment of his young life. He didn’t even remember looking up to the crowd as he walked off. In fact, the first thing new State Champion Boyd recalls was a random kid who was about to wrestle saying “Yo congrats bro.”
Truthfully, this is a David vs. Goliath story. But that’s not how it will be told. Jeffrey is one of the most dedicated, hardworking kids I have ever met to this day. The gold medalist was welcomed to a home crowd at McDowell including all of his family and friends. A truly historic moment, not only for Jeffrey, but for McDowell. No feeling could describe the joy I felt for Jeffrey.
Jeffrey went on to wrestle at WVU and is currently a redshirt freshman who holds a solid record in open tournaments. The sky is the limit for the kid from West Millcreek!
By: Jack Costello