Prep Wrestling

Dennis Hynek resigns as Cedar Rapids Kennedy head wrestling coach

Decision was a year in the making and came after 17 years over 2 tenures with Cougars

Kennedy head coach Dennis Hynek talks to Ethan Winsor during a medical break during the 285-weight bout of their dual at
Kennedy head coach Dennis Hynek talks to Ethan Winsor during a medical break during the 285-weight bout of their dual at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The decision was a year in the making and one Dennis Hynek didn’t take lightly.

This just seemed like the right time and right move for the longtime Cedar Rapids Kennedy head wrestling coach.

Hynek confirmed Monday that he has resigned from his coaching position, closing 17 years over two tenures in charge of the Cougars program. The school announced the decision in a news release Monday.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, including this year,” Hynek said. “I think we’ve had a lot of great moments.

“My wife (Robin) and I are ready to move on and try some other things. ... It wasn’t a sudden thing.”

Kennedy was 10-2 this season, claiming its second consecutive Mississippi Valley Conference divisional title and extending its MVC dual win streak to 14. The Cougars reached the regional dual finals. Kennedy advance eight to the state meet this season, including medalists Jay Oostendorp (fifth at 182 pounds) and Gavin Bascom (eighth at 220), and placed 17th.

“This is a bittersweet announcement for our school and staff as Coach Hynek has been a strong leader in our athletic department and our overall school culture since the early 1990s,” Kennedy Activities Director Aaron Stecker said in a news release.

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Hynek will continue to teach math at the school. He won’t be in charge but plans to still follow the program, offering his support when not traveling for weekends and breaks during the season.

“It’s not like I’m going anywhere,” said Hynek, who had heart surgery during the 2016-17 season. “If we happen to be in town during the winter and it’s something where I can help out with a meet or cheer the kids on I’m absolutely going to be here.”

Hynek led the program from 1994-2003. He stepped down to spend time with family and returned to the helm when Brent Paulsen stepped down in 2012. He recalled being nervous for his second stint, wondering if he could relate to the athletes and new technique. Hynek praised his assistants for their efforts.

“The eight years went really quick,” Hynek said. “It was getting to the point where it was time. I still really enjoyed it and had a great time. You just kind of know when you know and I knew it was time to move along.

“My staff is one of the best around. I’m really comfortable things are going to continue to go great.”

The program reached new heights under Hynek. He posted a 174-104 dual record with Class 3A state duals appearances in 2000, 2001 and 2004. Kennedy finished fourth in 2004.

The Cougars earned five top-10 finishes at the traditional state meet. They were third in 2003, capping a four-year stretch in the top 10. Kennedy was eighth in 2002, ninth in 2001 and 10th in 2000. The best showing in his second stint was fourth in 2016.

He coached two state champions. Dan Reisner won the 140-pound title in 1999. Ben Sarasin, an Division III All-American for University of Chicago, claimed the 170 crown in 2018.

The impact was not just on the mat.

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“More importantly, Coach Hynek has used the platform of wrestling to build leaders and exceptional young people that positively impact their families, our school and out community,” Stecker said. “He understands the bigger picture of what high school athletics are ultimately about and he has embraced his role as a leader in this process, mentoring many coaches and athletes as a part of his journey.”

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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