DES MOINES — Cedar Rapids Xavier wrestling coach Ryan Chambers took a picture with his son, Patrick, 14 years ago inside Wells Fargo Arena during the state wrestling tournament.
Thursday, the father and son were able to live out their dream.
Ryan, in his ninth season as coach, sat in his son Patrick’s corner as he competed in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament.
“It’s been quite the journey,” Ryan Chambers said. “I’m thankful for him because he wrote some incredible chapters in my life’s book and hopefully I wrote some chapters in his book. It’s pretty special.”
Patrick Chambers’ story is one of perseverance. Over the summer, Patrick thought about giving up football for his senior season to focus on wrestling. Ryan wouldn’t let his son do that.
“He’s played with those kids his whole life and it wasn’t a good choice for him to give it up,” Ryan said. “It was a chapter in his book he was going to have to explain to his kids. I told him he needed to stick it out. He stuck it out in practice. He’d get five or 10 reps on a regular game night. Last couple weeks, he got a couple more plays in.”
But Patrick was still the backup.
In the Class 3A state championship game, Xavier starting running back Braden Stovie was injured just before halftime. Patrick was the next man up.
“He ended up catching the go-ahead touchdown to win the state title and championship game (a 34-20 win over Western Dubuque),” Ryan said. “He’s been able to perform under pressure. Perseverance is something he takes personally.”
Patrick won’t get a storybook ending in wrestling after losing his first two matches of the state tournament, but Ryan is thankful none the less.
“He worked himself through a lot and it hasn’t been easy for him with added pressure of being the coach’s son, and I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure I don’t realize he goes through,” Ryan said. “But my god, I couldn’t be blessed with a better kid.”
Cascade brothers Aidan and Nolan Noonan reached the quarterfinals together. Nolan, a senior who was sixth last season, said this was something they have envisioned for a long time.
“It was cool,” Nolan said. “We’ve always had that dream when we were younger to compete together down here. We worked hard all week and we’re ready to go.”
Fourth-ranked Aidan (46-0) opened with a pin over Cullen Koedam of West Sioux at 113. Nolan used a second-period escape to edge Guthrie Center ACGC’s Gunnar Larsen 1-0 at 132.
“I just wanted to get that first one out of the way,” Noonan said. “It’s always a tough one, but I think I wrestled pretty decent.”
Nolan almost didn’t return. He was stuck in a district with two other ranked wrestlers. He won a district wrestleback over North Linn’s seventh-ranked Heath Moyer, a state medalist last year.
“It felt good,” Noonan said. “I know I could come down here and compete. It is exactly what I wanted to do.”
— K.J. Pilcher, The Gazette
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