Prep Wrestling

A very special win for Xavier wrestling

Cedar Rapids Xavier's Christian Stanek (left) takes on Oskaloosa's Leland Evans at last year's state tournament at the W
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Christian Stanek (left) takes on Oskaloosa’s Leland Evans at last year’s state tournament at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Henry Ford once said “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

This season the Xavier wrestling team has proved how moving forward as a team can lead to good things.

Xavier took home its first tournament victory in 12 years at the Zimmerman Invitational in Maquoketa on Jan. 2. The Saints had four wrestlers win in their respective weight classes — seniors Ivan Thomas, Caelen Shannon and Ryan Volk and junior Christian Stanek. Freshman Ryan Hoefer finished second.

Volk took first place at 182 pounds, winning by fall over Cayden Miller of Midland in 1 minute and 9 seconds. At 170, Thomas won by fall over Tim Nimely of Muscatine in 5 minutes and 54 seconds. Shannon beat Caden Ballou of Midland by major decision and Stanek took first with a decision over Mason Crabtree of Muscatine.

“It meant a lot to me because it was my first tournament win and our team’s first tournament win,” Shannon said. “The conditioning that we do at practice allowed for me to feel comfortable in my matches.”

These individual successes have come from team motivation.

“Wrestling is about repetition and pushing yourself physically,” Thomas said. “Our team has stayed focused this year. My team is what pushes me to win. When we drill or live wrestle, we push one another, which brings our success.”

The improvements from last season can be credited to the positive practice environment.

“As a team, we’ve improved our mindset, we are a lot more confident and excited about competing and we just get along really well as a team,” Stanek said.

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The passion and drive that each wrestler possesses has been acknowledged, especially from another’s perspective. Jordan Jansen, the wrestling team manager, has been a loyal fan of the sport, but especially Xavier’s program, for many years now.

“I don’t see the time and effort they put in but I know they are working hard and it pays off when they are competing on the mat,” Jansen said.

The success has not come easy, as they have overcome tough competition.

“We are competing with other good teams,” Shannon said. “We are winning duals that we would have not won in past years because of how good our team is this year.”

Jansen said the team has created a strong chemistry through encouragement toward one another.

“We have good individuals, but when it comes to the team, they are always cheering one another on, whether you’re the best on the team or not, it doesn’t matter,” Jansen said.

Everything the wrestlers put in is to achieve their goals.

“We are all focused on pushing one another to reach our goals set at the beginning of the year,” Thomas said. “As a team, we write down our actions on what we do outside of practice to achieve them.”

Thomas said his specific goals will benefit his chances at state.

“I wrote down for the beginning of the year that I would lift every morning before school as well as watch film every night,” he said. “These small things will help me achieve my goal at state.”

Stanek has high hopes for this season, individually and as a whole team.

“Individually the goal is to win state and, as a team, I’d like to be in the team rankings,” Stanek said.

The Saints are not finished yet and it is clear to see the confidence they have as postseason arrives.

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“Our team was very excited to win this tournament, but we still have a bit of the season left to go. We are excited for our upcoming meets and success,” Thomas said.

The Saints advanced to the state duals and lost to Cedar Rapids Prairie, 39-29, on Wednesday. The district tournament is Saturday.

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