CEDAR RAPIDS – Erik Hovey has rebounded from losses on the mat, but those instances pale in comparison to the way he has handled a recent personal loss.
The Cedar Rapids Jefferson junior’s father, Todd, died suddenly on Dec. 18 at the age of 48, leaving him to compete without his biggest fan and the man who got him started in wrestling.
He showed strength and resolve, posting a pair of victories and helping Cedar Rapids Jefferson to Mississippi Valley Conference dual wins over Cedar Rapids Xavier and Dubuque Wahlert last night at Xavier. The J-Hawks beat the Saints, 60-12, and the Golden Eagles, 53-6, improving to 7-0 overall and remain atop the MVC Mississippi Division.
Hovey said that a possible heart ailment may have led to his dad’s sudden death. The last three weeks have been difficult.
“It’s been really hard having something that’s always been there just gone,” Hovey said. “It was something I could rely on. I’ve been trying to get used to something like that.”
Jefferson Coach Dick Briggs praised the way Hovey has dealt with the situation, displaying the toughness and perseverance indicative of wrestlers. He has continued to work hard and has competed in both events since his dad passed.
“He’s such a great kid,” Briggs said. “He’s handling the adversity like a champ. If I didn’t know it happened, I wouldn’t know it had happened. I couldn’t be more proud of him and how it has handled it.”
Hovey said his dad took him to his first practice when he was “pretty little,” and they bonded through the sport. Todd Hovey was a fixture at his son’s competitions.
“He really liked coming to all these meets,” Hovey said. “He took a lot of pictures. I don’t think he missed a single one since I’ve been in high school.”
This season was his first in the varsity lineup. An accomplishment his dad enjoyed.
“He was thrilled,” Hovey said. “He was really proud of that.”
Wrestling provides a brief distraction from his loss. He can focus solely on improving in wrestling practice, spending time with teammates and battling opponents in bouts.
“You go out there on the mat and there isn’t anything else,” Hovey said. “It’s just you and that other guy. For however long it is, that’s all you can think about. It’s been good for me.
“I have a great team. I love them all. They’ve been trying to be with me as much as they can.”
Briggs said he has emphasized that very thing to Hovey. He noted the team has grown closer, supporting their teammate during this time.
“The team has rallied around him and stood with him,” Briggs said. “We said the wrestling room is a place to get away from that for two hours and come in with friends and have fun doing what you enjoy.”
The sport demands its participants to overcome setbacks, picking yourself off the mat and fight again. It applies to Hovey and his resilience.
“Wrestling is one of those sports that can teach you a lot of life lessons,” Briggs said. “Unfortunately, this is a tough lesson he has to learn at this age.”
Competition has been therapeutic to an extent. Hovey balances his contribution to the team with the dedication of the season to his dad’s memory.
“I go out there and I try to get the win for the team, but I always know he’d want to be up there (in the stands) watching me,” Hovey said. “It’s comforting to know I’d be doing that for him (now).”
Hovey scored a first-period fall over Ryan Williams at 195 pounds, as the J-Hawks won 11 weights against Xavier (7-10). He notched a 6-0 win over John Patrick, helping Jefferson to 12 wins against Wahlert (9-4).
“I was really happy with it,” Hovey said.
Eight J-Hawks went 2-0 in the triangular. Top-ranked Brenden Baker (106), Joseph Sibomana (113), Kyle Briggs (120), P.J. Rashed (126), Matt Culver (138), Kelly May (152), Luke Sedlacek (170) and 220-pounder Dalton Kuehl were unbeaten Thursday night for Jefferson. May led the way with two pins. Kuehl, Baker, Rashed and Culver each added falls. Baker also recorded a 6-5 win over Wahlert’s Tristan Birt, ranked fifth in 2A.
“We knew we would have some tough matches in both meets,” Briggs said. “Overall, I thought we wrestled very well.”
Xavier’s seventh-ranked heavyweight Cole Turner did not wrestle. Coach Ryan Chambers said he is focusing on academic issues at this time.
Clint Lembeck (132) and Nick Drahozal (145) powered the Saints, winning both of their matches for the Saints. Lembeck, ranked sixth at 126, handled Jefferson’s state medalist Michael Moncivais, 8-3, and had a 12-1 major decision over Wahlert’s Jacob Lange. Drahozal, also ranked sixth, pinned Wahlert’s Colin Smith before dropping Jefferson’s 10th-ranked Tavian Rashed.
AT C.R. XAVIER
C.R. Jefferson 60, C.R. Xavier 12
152 – Kelly May (CRJ) pinned Caleb Billick, :54; 160 – Luke Sedlacek (CRJ) won by forfeit; 170 – Sean Ickes (CRX) pinned Nick Dreckman, 3:49; 182 – Josh Allen (CRJ) pinned Sam Meyers, 1:44; 195 – Erik Hovey (CRJ) pinned Ryan Williams, 1:22; 220 – Dalton Kuehl (CRJ) pinned Michael Maher, :30; 285- William Orr (CRJ) won by forfeit; 106 – Brenden Baker (CRJ) pinned Jeff Vipond, 1:55; 113 – Joseph Sibomana (CRJ) dec. Nick Koechner, 8-5; 120 – Kyle Briggs (CRJ) dec. Josh Gerke, 5-4; 126 - Patrick Rashed (CRJ) won by forfeit; 132 - Clint Lembeck (CRX) dec. Michael Moncivais, 8-3; 138 - Matt Culver (CRJ) pinned Jerry Duball, 4:47; 145 – Nick Drahozal, (CRX) dec. Tavian Rashed, 8-4.
C.R.Jefferson 53, Dubuque Wahlert 6
138 - Matt Culver (CRJ) major dec. Jackson Flogel, 11-3; 145 - Tavian Rashed (CRJ) major dec. Colin Smith, 16-2; 152 – Kelly May (CRJ) pinned Myles Wernimont, 2:35; 160 - Luke Sedlacek (CRJ) dec. Andrew Turner, 3-0; 170 – Nick Dreckman (CRJ) dec. Weslee Haynes, 4-2; 182 – Riley Hasken (DW) dec. Josh Allen, 7-0; 195 – Erik Hovey (CRJ) dec. John Patrick, 6-0; 220 - Dalton Kuehl (CRJ) won by forfeit; 285 – Ryan Seaman DW) dec. William Orr, 11-4; 106 – Brenden Baker (CRJ) dec. Tristan Birt, 6-5; 113 – Joseph Sibomana (CRJ) won by forfeit; 120 – Kyle Briggs (CRJ) dec. Matt Wigginton, 8-2; 126 – Patrick Rashed (CRJ) pinned Anthony Dudek, 1:19; 132 – Michael Moncivais (CRJ) pinned Jacob Lange, 1:23.
Dubuque Wahlert 42, C.R. Xavier 28
145 – Nick Drahozal (CRX) pinned Colin Smith, 5:26; 152 – Myles Wernimont (DW) pinned Caleb Billick, 5:05; 160 – Andrew Turner (DW) won by forfeit; 170 – Weslee Haynes (DW) pinned Sean Ickes, 6:40; 182 – Mason Flynn (DW) pinned Sam Meyers, 1:35; 195 – Riley Hasken (DW) pinned Ryan Williams, 1:31; 220 – John Patrick (DW) dec. Alex Francois, 9-2; 285 – Thomas Pudil (CRX) dec. Ryan Seaman, 8-5; 106 – Tristan Birt (DW) dec. Jeff Vipond, 6-2; 113 – Nick Koechner (CRX) won by forfeit; 120 – Josh Gerke (CRX) dec. Matt Wigginton, 8-2; 126 – Anthony Dudek (DW) won by forfeit; 132 – Clint Lembeck (CRX) major dec. Jacob Lange, 12-1; 138 – Jerry Duball (CRX) pinned Jackson Flogel, 1:08.
Brenden Baker, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Clint Lembeck, Cole Turner, Dalton Kuehl, Dick Briggs, Dubuque Wahlert, Erik Hovey, Golden Eagles, J-Hawks, Joseph Sibomana, kelly May, Kyle Briggs, Luke Sedlacek, Matt Culver, Mississippi Valley Confeerence, Nick Drahozal, P.J. Rashed, Ryan Chambers, Saints, Wrestling