Xavier's Ivan Thomas impresses on wrestling mat

HS journalism: Saints freshman competing with confidence

Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ivan Thomas (right) drives into Mount Vernon’s Ryan Clark during the 113-pound championship bout at the 52nd Annual Mount Vernon Wrestling Invitational at Mount Vernon High School in December. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ivan Thomas (right) drives into Mount Vernon’s Ryan Clark during the 113-pound championship bout at the 52nd Annual Mount Vernon Wrestling Invitational at Mount Vernon High School in December. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — One young wrestler is drawing comparisons to some of Xavier’s best.

In his first season as a Saint, freshman Ivan Thomas (106 pounds) is quickly being compared to recent graduates Clint Lembeck (Class of 2016) and Josh Gerke (2017).

Thomas won 29 of his first 32 varsity matches, did not wrestle in the Mississippi Valley Conference meet on Saturday.

Thomas began wrestling at the age of 6 for the Saints Wrestling Club. As he grew and evolved, he moved on from the Saints Wrestling Club and joined other, more competitive wrestling clubs. He began to travel to other states in order to compete in higher level tournaments.

Making the jump to the high school level has been one of the biggest adjustments Thomas has had to make in his career.

“At first, I felt a little bit nervous at the new feeling,” he said of wrestling older athletes. “I am used to the feeling now, and I’m ready for the rest of the season.”

His teammates have nothing but praise for the young wrestler.

“He handles himself very well for being so young,” senior Ambrose Poduska said. “He wrestles with a level of confidence that allows him to succeed at the varsity level.”

Oftentimes high school sports are dominated by the stronger and more mature upperclassmen. Weight class separation allows wrestlers to succeed because of to skill rather than sheer size. Even though Thomas has been wrestling for years, he was surprised by the success he has had so early in his career.

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“I am excited for the rest of the year, and I want to improve in the practice room every day,” Thomas said.

The Saints wrestle at Waterloo East on Thursday.

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