Joyce represents a small state, but has big aspirations

Joyce represents a small state, but has big aspirations

When the wresting community sees little Rhode Island on the map- they don’t exactly think “powerhouse”. But for Ponaganset High School Senior Jacob Joyce, that assumption does little to deter his confidence.

Despite “where he’s from”, Joyce has remained focused on where he’s at and most importantly- where he’s going… 

The Stanford commit’s resume speaks for itself- a 2x RIIL State Champion (3x finalist), a 2022 New England Champion at 120 lbs, a silver medal at the 2021 NHSCA Nationals, and most recently- a 7th place podium finish (126 lbs.) at one of the deepest tournaments in the nation, Super32.

If that’s not enough, Joyce knocked off 4 PIAA state placewinners from the holy grail of Pennsylvania- all in the same calendar year.

How’s that for “powerhouse”? 

Simply put, Jacob Joyce is the real deal. 

His success on the national stage has only helped open more doors for the entire state of Rhode Island. Joyce and teammates will compete at the Beast of the East national tournament in December- per usual. However, there’s been an exciting new addition to the schedule. For the first time ever- Ohio’s Ironman, the most prestigious high school folkstyle tournament in the country, will host wrestlers from the state of Rhode Island. It’s no coincidence that the historical invite was sent to Ponaganset, where first-year Head Coach Stephen Mineo will lead the Chieftains into uncharted waters.

Some say a ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for- and so Mineo is eager for his team to set sail, seizing another big opportunity outside the confines of New England.

The chase for better competition is something all wrestlers and fans can admire. It’s this mindset that will take Joyce 3,000 miles across the country to Palo Alto, California next Fall. Stanford University provides the perfect mix of sports and academics, a win-win. With the re-establishment of their program and the direction of legendary coach Rob Koll, Joyce is sure to keep on surging.

After all, excellence on the mat and in the classroom has been a theme for the Joyce family. Jake’s older brother Mike is now a freshman at Brown University after polishing off quite a high school career himself (State Champion & 3x finalist). Jake’s father Mike Sr. served as the Ponaganset head wrestling coach for 7 years, leading the Chieftains to their first state and New England team titles in 2018. Jake’s younger brother Joey is a freshman at Ponaganset and equally impressive on the mat (3rd place finish at NHSCA MS Nationals). Last but not least, Jake’s Mom Cindy- a graduate of Roger Williams University in Bristol- serves as the glue of the family and of course, her boys biggest fan. 

The accomplishments of the Joyce clan go hand in hand with Rhode Island & New England wrestling. Their contributions have changed the tide; a universal respect has been earned. There is a new standard up North and the sport of wrestling is better because of it.

Joyce’s journey is just getting started- and before he departs the Ocean State- there’s more heads to turn and more work to be done. Win or lose- the waves he’s made for RI should have us all asking- what’s in the water up there? 

  Pat Mineo  



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