‘Attitude check’ sparks winning streak for Jimenez

MADISON – Johnny Jimenez has seen momentum work both for and against him during his two seasons at Wisconsin

A quick look through the results of Jimenez’s 36 matches shows a young man who is prone to some losing streaks here and there. They also show a wrestler capable of stringing wins together in bunches.

In his relatively brief career, Jimenez has four winning streaks spanning three matches or more. He also has three losing streaks that have lasted three-plus matches. He holds an overall record of 17-19 in that time span and a 4-7 mark in the Big Ten.

Right now, Jimenez is on the upswing, enjoying a three-match winning streak with wins over Francis Edelen of Illinois, No.19 Sean McCabe of Rutgers and Skyler Petry of Minnesota.

His victory over McCabe last Friday gave Wisconsin its first Big Ten dual win of the season. The victory was also Jimenez’s first over a ranked opponent in his career.

The sophomore has seemingly been a man on a mission of late. This time, he hopes a new mental approach will swing momentum in his favor for good.

“I’ve gone into every match with this new mindset,” Jimenez said. “It’s the second half of the year. I took some bumps at the beginning. But I plan on continuing to take this to the Big Ten Conference tournament.”

That new mindset came courtesy of a deep conversation he had recently.

“I had a heart stirring talk with my coach. It was kind of an attitude check,” Jimenez said. “Now I’m coming out for every match expecting to win, with a good attitude and ready to support my team.”

Badgers head coach Barry Davis also sees Jimenez’s success as a product of his progress in the wrestling room.

“It’s some things he’s been doing in practice and some drills we’ve been putting him through,” Davis said. “It’s coming. Two good back-to-back wins, especially to close the deal with Rutgers. It’s good to see. He’s a good kid.”

Jimenez is working with a nutritionist at UW in hopes of maximizing his performance. He also consults longtime mentor Mr. Justice, back home in Illinois.

“He has helped me since I started wrestling,” Jimenez said. “So every time I have a problem, I call him up. I say, ‘Mr. Justice, what do I have to do differently?’ He’s helped me a lot. I’ve been putting his new ideas in my diet and it has shown on the mat. I’m able to wrestle all seven minutes.”

Now, Jimenez is out to prove that he belongs with the upper-echelon wrestlers in the Big Ten.

“There’s no one out there that can beat me if I have support from my teammates and confidence in myself,” Jimenez said. “I just have to come out and wrestle hard.”

Friday will provide a proving ground for Jimenez who is scheduled to take on top-ranked Nathan Tomasello of Ohio State.

From there, Jimenez will have a chance to improve his seeding in the Big Ten Tournament. Currently, 12-10 overall and 3-3 in conference competition, he has Big Ten matchups against Maryland’s Michael Beck (3-9, 0-6 B1G) and Garrison White (11-9, 3-4) left on his regular season slate.

Like many of his teammates, Jimenez has big plans for both the immediate and distant futures. But he also knows the importance of handling the task at hand.

“I want to win the Big Ten. I want to be a national champion, but I have to take some small steps first.”