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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cam Shaver has been exposed to University of Iowa wrestling for nearly his whole life.
He has been a lifelong fan and has wrestled there with clubs. His half-brother, Joey Slaton, was an NCAA finalist for the Hawkeyes and Iowa Coach Tom Brands.
Any doubt of where he wanted to continue his wrestling career quickly dissipated when he took a visit to Iowa City. Shaver has verbally committed to wrestle for Iowa.
“I could feel the excitement and the positive energy,” Shaver said. “It gave me goose bumps.”
The Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior officially began his final prep season as wrestling programs across the state opened with the first day of practice Monday. Shaver will certify at 126 pounds this season and may start at 132.
Shaver, who projects to be a 133- or 125-pounder in college, was impressed with the atmosphere that surrounded the Hawkeyes and their coaches. He spent time with them, getting a feel for the camaraderie between the wrestlers and their coaches away of workouts.
“I was able to see them outside of practice, too,” Shaver said. “I could vision myself in the room practicing for Tom, (assistant coach) Terry (Brands) and (assistant coach Ryan) Morningstar.”
He received interest from various college programs, scheduling a visit to Edinboro (Pa.) and considering NCAA Division III schools like Buena Vista and Simpson. Iowa was the only real choice.
“I wrestled there my whole life,” Shaver said. “I made sure to check other colleges to make sure this was where I wanted.”
Kennedy Coach Dennis Hynek was not surprised by Shaver’s choice.
“He’s always loved the Hawks,” said Hynek, who wrestled at Iowa under legendary coach Dan Gable. “That’s what his dream has always been.
“I’m happy for him.”
Shaver owns 83 career victories, qualifying for the Class 3A state tournament at 120 last year. He missed the podium, falling to wrestlers who placed second and fourth and defeated the eighth-place finisher in the opening round.
Hynek has seen Shaver maintain a strong work ethic, devoting numerous hours to improve on the mat, and said he is just as dedicated in the classroom as well.
“He’s working hard to get to his dream,” Hynek said. “We want to see him continue to mature and get better in all areas.”
Shaver said he is glad to have his college decision out of the way before the season started. He can funnel his entire focus to wrestling and school.
For him, the goal is pretty simple. Not only does he want to reach the state podium, but he wants to be standing on top of it the final Saturday night in Des Moines.
“I want to bring home a state title to finish my (prep) career,” Shaver said. “That would be huge.”
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