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Class 2A and 3A State Wrestling Tournament

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DES MOINES Last season was an exercise in frustration for Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Nolan Hromidko.

The 113-pounder missed the end of the season after battling his weight all year. But one year later, Hromidko not only has his weight under control, but his opponents as well. The sophomore earned a technical fall in 4:00 over Keokuk freshman Garrett Nelson in the first round.

"It's great (to see), he's been doing really well," said Kennedy Coach Dennis Hynek. "Nolan's done a great job (all year). For the first match here in his high school career, he did a great job to get the tech fall. It's a good start."

It's no coincidence that with a new outlook on things, Hromidko has had his best season. He said this year has been very different from 2013 in a number of ways.

Finally having a handle on weight, he said, has been the key.

"This year, it's just been a whole new experience, honestly," Hromidko said. "Last year was hard making weight. This year I feel stronger at my weight. I feel like I've had some pretty close matches with top-ranked opponents, so I feel like I can do a lot this year."

His coach has seen that comfort in competition, but more importantly, he's seen it in practice.

After all, the easiest way to make a coach happy is to work hard in practice and show a commitment to getting better.

"I like the way that in practices he's willing to work hard and improve every day," Hynek said. "It's a lot better (than last year)."

With the season obviously not ending the way any of them wanted it to, Hromidko didn't know if he'd ever get to this point.

Being mired in a frustrating end to the season left a bitter taste in his mouth, and he said maybe cast doubt in other people's minds about what exactly he could accomplish.

The win Thursday and what could lie ahead just might flip that script.

"It's good to be here. I'm liking it so far," Hromdko said with a grin. "Last year motivated me for this year since I wasn't able to wrestle at districts or at state. This year I want to prove people I'm able to do that.

"This win proves that I'm here, that I want to win, for people not to look at me like I'm just a 15th-ranked kid in the tournament. I want to be known in the tournament."

Brothers both advance

A year ago, Jake Holschlag made his first appearance at the state wrestling tournament for Union, finishing fourth at 145 pounds.

Fast forward to 2014, and not only is the junior back at Wells Fargo Arena this time at 160 pounds but this time he's joined by his younger brother, freshman Derek Holschlag. Each earned wins by fall in the first round of the Class 2A tournament on Thursday morning, Jake in 2:57 over Ryan Woods of Osage, and Derek with his first state win in 3:34 over Bryant Woodford of Central Clinton Dewitt.

"We saw basically what we want to see pretty aggressive," said Union Coach Pat Hogan. "They both got falls. Obviously winning is what we're looking for, but scoring points along with it, as far as the team goes, is important. They did what they've done, pretty much all year."

Hogan isn't new to coaching brothers, having coached Logan and Max Thomsen to state championships last season, Logan at 152 pounds as a senior, and Max at 126 as a then-sophomore. Max is back this year at 138, and won his first round match as well in a win by fall over Chase Wyant of Van Meter in 1:07.

With that success, and the good start for the Holschlag brothers, Hogan smiled when asked if he'd like to have brothers come through more often.

"It's pretty unique, but I had the Thomsen brothers last year ... so I'll take brothers any time I can get them," Hogan said with a laugh. "I'd say (Jake and Derek) do (feed off each other). They look out for each other, as you'd think they would. The big brother (Jake) kind of looks after the little brother. It's a good situation."

Derek got the win early in the day Thursday, with Jake watching and warming up for his match yet to come. Jake said he told his younger brother to "stay calm. It's a live atmosphere ... I know when I first came in here it was just wild."

But when it came to how closely the elder Holschlag watched his younger brother as compared to preparing for his own match, Jake was measured even if he was excited and happy for Derek.

"It's always nice to see your brother do well," Jake said. "Honestly, I try not to watch him too much because then I get excited. I start yelling and stuff. I like to watch when I'm watching him, so I'm halfway in between (paying close attention, and focusing only on preparation), I'd say."

Derek got to watch from the Wells Fargo Arena seats last year, and said Jake has been a great help him join Jake in state competition.

When asked how he felt about following his brother to the tournament, Derek thought for a minute before a slight shrug of his shoulders and a smile.

"It's pretty cool," Derek said. "We encourage each other. He's helped me a lot. He's told me what to do, told me things I've done wrong, and helped me get better."

The Holschlags will wrestle their quarterfinal matches Friday, with Class 2A quarterfinals beginning at 9 a.m.

Xavier nearly perfect

The Xavier wrestling team brought four wrestlers to Des Moines for the state tournament, and very nearly had four wrestlers advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Clint Lembeck (132 pounds), Nick Drahozal (145 pounds) and Sean Ickes (170 pounds) all were victorious in their first-round matches.

"I think we're wrestling really well right now," said Xavier Coach Ryan Chambers. "The first three guys obviously wrestled well. We got the first matches out of the way, lots of jitters there. Once we get past these first matches, we'll see how it goes."

The lone loss for the Saints went to Cole Turner, who got stuck in a roll against Ottumwa's Conner Mier at heavyweight.

"We're 3-1, and probably should've won that last one," Chambers said. "We knew the guy was a roller, and we rolled with him. (Turner) came out strong and looked good, just got caught in a bad position."

Despite the loss, Chambers said he expected the level of success he's seen from his team so far in the tournament.

The coach added that he liked the draw for his kids going forward, but that there's a lot of wrestling left to be done.

"I do, I like our draws," Chambers said. "But we have to stay focused. We don't wrestle on paper."

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