By Mark Sahli, Photography by Justin Eiler
When you meet Jake West, a senior at Fargo Davies High School, your first impression might be that of an unintimidating, polite, nice, young man, who is very close to attaining his Eagle Scout status.
Throwing out words “Eagle Scout” casually in a conversation, even without knowing all that encompasses that feat, you realize just being around Jake, you would be in good hands. Some of the skills an Eagle Scout has accomplished are: citizenship in the community, the nation, and the world; communication, cooking, emergency preparedness, lifesaving, personal management and family life.
Speaking of family, Jake’s mother, Jennifer, has very high praise for the oldest of her four boys, “Jake is just an amazing kid. He sets a great example for his younger brothers, and teammates, as well.” She says that his best attribute is his ability to take a negative, or a loss, and turn it into a positive very quickly. She continues, “We are very lucky to have him.”
Jake’s wrestling coach, Keenan Spiess, echoes those sentiments and says Jake’s best attribute is his character. “He is a leader and it shows,” says Spiess.
Jake is a captain on the Davies wrestling team, as he was on the school’s football team. He is a past Eastern Dakota Conference wrestling champ and finished sixth at the 220 pound weight class last year. This year Jake is ranked fourth in the state of North Dakota at the 285 pound (heavyweight) class. When you meet or see him for the first time you will say, “What?”
At about 5’9” tall and far from 285 pounds — he looks to be stretching it when he says he weighs about 240 — he obviously also surprises his opponents.
His mother Jennifer says his size is deceiving and any shortfall is overcome by his fierce competitiveness and overall strength. He has set school records in weightlifting.
As good as he is in wrestling; he declares football as his favorite sport. He plays both offensive and defensive lineman and has been selected to all-conference teams in past seasons.
Even though his physical stature is far from that of J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, his favorite professional player, his heart, and love of the game are very similar.
The answer when asked about his favorite team or teams is also somewhat surprising, but, like many of his answers, his explanation is very precise and matter-of-fact. His favorite team is Brigham Young University (BYU) football.
His future plans are also very precise and related to BYU. Jake has plans to attend school there, and has already begun the process.
The close-knit nature of Jake’s family explains his decision. Both his parents attended BYU. His mother was very involved with music at the school; perhaps explaining another of Jake’s special talents. He is a very accomplished musical student. He plays the piano and sings. He has been involved with various singing groups through school, some of which some have won state music festival awards. Jake says he was a bass when he was a freshman, but has since become more of a soft spoken tenor.
Jake can also be found early mornings at his church where he is active in many groups and meetings long before school hours. When school does begin, his favorite subjects are history and some of the sciences.
Any long term goals beyond schooling are a bit vague for Jake at this time, but he does know he would like to end up working in Utah or North Dakota. Any place he does end up working would benefit from having this fine young man amongst them.
Jake has a yellow Labrador retriever as a pet, and when asked if he ever learns anything from his pet, he was surprised by the question, but only for a bit. He says his dog is trusting and thinks he is great. The old adage of “Be the person your pet thinks you are,” is not hard to do for Jake West.
It is no surprise. He is what a lot of people think, and that is that Jake West is a polite, caring, and great young man. FMSV