In January 2018, Jonathan Vestal returned to the Yukon wrestling program after more than a decade away.
Vestal had spent the previous four years in Atlanta working at a neurology clinic. The young chiropractor was curious as to how chiropractic care affects the brain, so he left Oklahoma and took the opportunity awaiting him in Atlanta.
When the Yukon High School 2002 graduate got the opportunity to return to his home state, he took it. On top of his chiropractic practice, he knew he wanted to get back in the wrestling coaching scene and his alma matter was his top option.
“Going to Atlanta was a great learning experience for me,” Vestal said. “It definitely made me a better chiropractor. After I had the opportunity to come back, I knew I wanted to get back into the coaching scene. I weighed my options, but Yukon was where I wanted to be.”
Yukon wrestling coach Joe Schneider welcomed Vestal back with open arms. The former Yukon star wrestler was an assistant coach in the Yukon wrestling program in the 2006-07 school year just before he attended chiropractic school.
Vestal was hired by Amanda Miller-Housh to be a chiropractor at Family Wellness Chiropractic. His new boss has been generous in allowing Vestal to live out two of his passions.
“Dr. Miller-Housh has been awesome in allowing me to work my schedule around wrestling practice,” Vestal said. “Joe (Schneider) has been great in allowing me to work my schedule around work and my wife (Teresa) has been amazing in allowing me to do both jobs. I am definitely able to do this by the good graces from several people.”
Vestal experienced a large amount of success on the wrestling mat at the high school level, but he did not get an early start like many wrestlers do.
Vestal did not start wrestling until the end of this eighth-grade year when a football coach from Yukon urged him to tryout the sport.
“I got slapped around at first,” Vestal said. “I got beat up pretty good. I got challenged and that’s why I loved it. I enjoy making hard stuff easy.”
Vestal never went to any camps or had the best equipment, but that didn’t stop him from getting better in his new activity.
“It made football a little easier,” Vestal said. “Wrestling taught me leverage and gave me a lot of confidence in all areas of my life. I learned to never fear anyone. Wrestling gave me the tools it took to be successful in any environment. It gave me self-confidence.”
It was a struggle at first for Vestal. He took quite a few lumps on the mat in his freshman year, but he gradually got better as he prepared for his sophomore year.
It wasn’t until the middle of his junior year where he started to take off. He took third-place in the 6A heavyweight division as a junior and then went undefeated as a senior and beat Westmoore’s Chris Finn in the 6A state finals. Finn was also undefeated going into the match.
Vestal was named an All-State wrestler as a senior and an All-City football player. At that time, an athlete could not make All-State in two sports, or he would have had a good chance to be an All-Stater in football as well.
Vestal ended his high school career ranked No. 5 in the nation in the heavyweight class.
Brian Picklo was Vestal’s head wrestling coach his senior year at Yukon. Picklo is now the head coach at Mustang High School.
Vestal was offered a scholarship to wrestle at Oklahoma State University and on his visit to Stillwater, he was impressed with what he saw.
“When I walked into OSU’s facilities and saw everything they had, I knew that was where I wanted to be,” Vestal said. “I signed immediately after my visit. I got enlightened in the first month I was there. I remember having to crawl out of the gym my first practice. Quitting was never in question, surviving was the only option.”
Vestal said one of the keys to success is surrounding yourself with successful people.
“When you surround yourself with people who are at an elite level, you become that as well. Someone once told me to name your five closest friends and I’ll tell you what type of person you are. The environment you put yourself in translates to how successful you are. I elevated myself because of who I was around. Everyone was self-driven.”
After his wrestling career had ended at OSU, Vestal was a few hours shy of being able to graduate. His wife was going through chiropractic school, which caught Vestal’s attention, but he didn’t think he would have the academic qualifications to get into the college.
After a lunch meeting with a chiropractor in Stillwater to discuss if he should pursue this new route, Vestal decided chiropractic school was next on the list, but first he had to finish at OSU.
“I took 36 hours in nine months and passed with straight A’s,” Vestal said. “I had to make straight A’s in order to qualify.”
Vestal attended Parker University in Dallas and started chiropractic school. Vestal said it was a struggle at first, but that changed when he remembered his former ways.
“I started to approach chiropractic school like I approached wrestling. Once I switched my mindset, I started having success. I have learned to treat everything like you are in wrestling practice. Wrestling has driven any success that I have ever had. It is built on the foundation that Yukon wrestling provided.”
Vestal said wrestling is the reason he has been successful up to this point of his life.
“Wrestling taught me values that produce success. You have to give 110 percent no matter what. It gave me my work ethic. Wrestling never made me a dime, but it made me every dime I have ever made. It teaches amazing lessons. For me, the shame of quitting outweighed the shame of throwing up from hard work.”
The Yukon native added that wrestling has made him a better chiropractor.
“I tell people I used to make chiropractic patients. Now, I heal them.”