Cedar Rapids Kennedy freshman Nolan Hromidko had a memorable varsity debut.
In his first tournament, Hromidko produced a win very few, if any, imagined.
Hromidko posted a first-period pin over West Des Moines Dowling’s second-ranked Tanner Rohweder, who was top-seeded in the 106-pound bracket at the Jack Mendenhall Invitational in Ames on Saturday.
Rohweder, a sophomore, reached the state semifinals last year, placing fifth at 106. Rohweder won the 100-pound national freestyle championship at Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D., in July. Hromidko was unaware of his opponent’s resume, but the Cougars coaches recognized the feat.
“I shook his hand and saw my coaches jumping up in the air,” Hromidko said. “I didn’t know what to think about it. I thought it was a simple win. They were going crazy and stuff.”
It didn’t take long for him to figure it out. Numerous people approached him, and random strangers offered congratulations.
“It was pretty exciting,” Hromidko said. “I was bragging to a few friends. I was pretty happy.”
Kennedy Coach Dennis Hynek said Rohweder scored the opening takedown, but Hromidko answered with a reversal off a granby roll. Later, Rohweder tried to escape and Hromidko locked up a near-side cradle to get the fall. Hromidko said his long arms make it a natural go-to move.
“He likes to cradle quite a bit,” Hynek said. “It’s pretty good when you get it locked up.”
Hynek resides in the select group of people not shocked by the result. He said he didn’t know what to expect but wasn’t surprised.
“When he decides he wants to wrestle the whole match and not just hang in there he can beat anybody,” said Hynek. “He also shows, too, when he lets up in a match that he is very beatable.
“How the rest of the season goes is completely up to him. If he can get himself to the point where his motor is going non-stop I think he has a really good shot to go a long way.”
Hromidko had wrestled junior varsity behind fellow freshman Logen Rodriguez at 113. He would have been eligible to make 106 for the final competition last month, but it was postponed by snow. He followed the win with another pin before losing by fall to eventual champion Sam Uthoff of Cedar Rapids Prairie.
He added a major decision in the consolation, but had to default the third-place match to Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Brenden Baker because a pigtail-round win to face Rohweder had given him five matches already. Hromidko finished fourth.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t win the whole tournament,” Hynek said. “(Uthoff) is pretty good.”
The postseaon path contains a number of obstacles for local 106-pounders in Class 3A. The district hosted by Marion includes Dubuque Senior’s third-ranked Chase Lynn, No. 6 Baker, eighth-ranked Uthoff, previously ranked Noah Ajram of Linn-Mar and Hromidko. Only two state berths are available.
“There’s a lot of competition at 106,” Hynek said. “It should be an exciting second half of the season, especially in our district.”
Uthoff was impressive as well, beating West Des Moines Valley’s Jack Koethe, 7-3, in the finals. He was one of five finalists for Prairie, which won the team title by 44 1/2 points over Dowling. Trey Blaha (138), 152-pounder Skyler St. John and heavyweight Andrew Netolicky won crowns. Cameron Rathje was second at 170. The Hawks tallied 218 points with 12 placewinners.
“It was a great opportunity for us to see a lot of teamswe don’t see in the state of Iowa,” Prairie Coach Blake Williams said. “That was kind of nice.”
Linn-Mar state champion and second-ranked 113-pounder Matt Wempen returned to the Lions’ lineup Saturday for the Linn-Mar Duals. The Lions’ sophomore went 5-0 in his first action in about a month after suffering an undisclosed injury.
Wempen scored two pins, a technical fall, a decision and received a forfeit as Linn-Mar finished second. Class 2A third-ranked Mediapolis edged 3A No. 3 Linn-Mar, 35-32, for the championship. Western Dubuque placed fourth, Mount Vernon was fifth, Marion finished eighth and Cedar Rapids Xavier came in 10th.
Taking Down Cancer
A fundraiser will be held during Solon’s Spartan Invitational wrestling tournament Saturday. Money raised from selling T-shirts, bracelets, baked goods, memory ribbons and tickets for a 50/50 drawing will benefit the family of a Solon alumnus, battling leukemia.
The event begins at 9 a.m. and will continue for the duration of the tournament.