CEDAR RAPIDS — Ethan Sullivan remained patient and dedicated during his first three seasons in Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s wrestling program.
He was relegated to wrestling junior varsity behind state qualifiers and medalists. The Cougars senior received the opportunity to step in at 195 pounds when injuries impacted the upper weight lineup.
His efforts paid dividends Thursday night.
With the dual teetering on the final match, Sullivan scored a takedown in the final 33 seconds to secure a decision and secure Class 3A 14th-ranked Kennedy’s 37-36 Mississippi Valley Conference dual victory over No. 19 Iowa City West at home.
“It feels good,” said Sullivan, who scored two third-period takedowns for a 6-3 win over Anu Dokun. “I tried not to focus on it. I just tried to go out and do what we’ve practiced all week.
“What takes no practice at all is the effort you give and never giving up. That’s what I did and it turned up my way.”
The only one as thrilled as Sullivan was Kennedy Coach Dennis Hynek. He said it was cool to see his success.
“He’s a senior, stepping in a tough situation,” Hynek said. “It came down to the last match of the night. The 14th match, down by two points and he did it. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The last three years are certainly worth it for moments like winning a decisive mat. He said he benefited from wrestling behind state medalist Cade Parker, who missed the season due to surgery for an injury during the football season, and Jay Oostendorp, who is ranked 10th at 182.
“It’s unfortunate Cade got injured, but I just have a next-man in mentality,” Sullivan said. “The good guys in front of me helped me get better.”
Sullivan opened the scoring with a reversal in the second. The final period was filled with action after Dokun’s escape tied it, 2-2, with 1:50 to go. Sullivan came out on top of two late scrambles for takedowns and that was the difference.
“I just gave it all I could,” Sullivan said. “I just wanted it more.”
Kennedy (7-1, 4-0) started the dual with consecutive pins from Gavin Bascom at 220 and heavyweight Josh Vis. Jonah Hallam (113), 126-pounder Jake McLeod and Dylan Falck at 145 added pins and Ashtin Falck posted a major decision at 138 to give Kennedy a 34-18 lead.
“We’ve talked to the kids all week long, and even before the captains’ coin flip, it’s going to come down to bonus points,” Hynek said. “We had some guys get some pins when it really counted. It came right down to it.”
West (2-3, 2-3) stormed back with four straight wins and five in a seven-match stretch. Top-ranked Hunter Garvin posted a first-period pin at 132. Graham Gambrall added a fall at 152 followed by a decision from Collin Leavy (160) and a technical fall by fifth-ranked Ashton Barker at 170.
Second-ranked 180-pounder Will Hoeft gave West its first and only lead in the lone battle between ranked wrestlers. He scored two takedowns and five nearfall points in the final two periods for a 14-3 major over Oostendorp.
West also received pins from Grant O’Dell (106) and Parker McBride at 120. The Trojans outscored Kennedy, 97-50, in match points and owned a 30-12 takedown edge.
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