CEDAR RAPIDS — Newbies often get overlooked.
Christian Stanek did not last month, however, making Cedar Rapids Xavier history as the first freshman to place at the state wrestling tournament.
Stanek placed eighth at 132 pounds in Class 3A.
“It felt awesome to reach the podium,” Stanek said. “It had been my dream for a long time, but to do it as a freshman was amazing.”
Stanek made his state debut on Feb. 14 with a pin, in 1:02, against junior Duncan Delzell from Burlington.
“Wrestling at state was an awesome experience,” Stanek said. “It was cool to compete in front of thousands of people. There was a big difference between watching in the stands in previous years and being on the mats this year.”
Growing up, Stanek wrestled for the Xavier X-Men and the Eastern Iowa Wrestling Club. He has spent countless hours on a mat.
“I have known Christian since the first day he wrestled,” Saints Coach Ryan Chambers said. “I knew at an early age that Christian was going to be very successful.
“Christian dictated his love of the sport of wrestling by knowing what he wanted. He was always going to several tournaments and practices a week. He has worked very hard and made a lot of sacrifices only wrestlers understand to get where he is today.”
Although Stanek was one of the younger Xavier wrestlers, he still brought leadership to the team.
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“Even though Christian was only a freshman, he led by example day in and day out,” Chambers said. “He puts his work in, is a student of the sport, and thrives to be better. Our guys looked up to that.”
Stanek eyes more success over the next three years and knows his work will start in the offseason.
“I need to get bigger and stronger,” Stanek said. “I know what I need to work on, and I have confidence that I will come out better next year. I want to win state next year, so to climb to the top of the podium is my ultimate goal.”
Chambers knows Stanek’s hard work and skills are hard to match.
“Christian is a great wrestler, but he is an even better kid,” Chambers said. “He is coachable and wants to get better every time he steps on the mat.
“I know he could not just qualify, but place at state, because he is in an elite category. I could not be more proud of Christian.”