By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Jon Squibb no longer will need to look for that edge he likes to carry around into Wing Bowl. That will be already there Friday at Wing Bowl 22 at the Wells Fargo Center, after the three-time champ lost by just five wings last year to Jamie “The Bear” McDonald, who ate 287 wings.
This could possibly be the deepest competitive pool Squibb has ever encountered in his six years competing. There’s Molly Schuyler, McDonald returning, and Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, who in the past has gone toe-to-toe with previous Wing Bowl champ Joey Chestnut.
And then there’s Squibb, who each year continues to top his previous best.
“But this year is different,” Squibb admitted. “This is definitely the deepest field. It is definitely the most challenging year to get back to the top, but that hasn’t scared me before. Last year, for me, my mindset has changed to get Philly some redemption against some strong challengers that are from outside the area. I’m going in with the same mentality to stand up for Philly. I’m excited for the opportunity and the goal to bring another one home.”
Squibb already has three titles to his credit, winning Wing Bowl 17, 18 and 19. In those years, Squibb was the favorite, though it’s something he didn’t want to hear. He’d contrive something to self-motivate. He wasn’t the underdog. It’s just that he thought himself as the underdog.
This time, he is.
“What’s helped me is continuing to work; it’s all a mindset and over the last two years, I worked to be the favorite, but this year, I know that I’m not,” Squibb said. “I know there are a couple of people on the radar, and that dynamic, coupled with a loss last year is definitely driving me. I’m going to go through the same routine as I have in the past and go to the same place I have at the Well Fargo.
“I know it’s an eating competition, but I have to execute better. There is a lot of technique to competitive eating. Every one of those 30 minutes will hit that spot. You have to consistently tell yourself that you’re not done and you still have work to do. Outside of that, I want to stay in it for 30 minutes. That’s what makes Wing Bowl so unique is that it is 30 minutes long. It’s a matter of speed and endurance.”
Qualities Squibb has exerted in the past.
“I want to shoot for 300 wings again, and with the competition out there, the winner is going to have to hit at least 300 wings to win,” Squibb predicts. “If you’re not coming at it full throttle, you’ll lose. I know that. The 300 is by far my minimum this year. Last year was the first year I walked away empty handed. Last year was a little bit bitter for me. I don’t want a repeat of that.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.