Wrestling’s Henken heads to Nationals
Pioneer sophomore Tyler Henken entered this season with a single goal: make the NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championship Tournament.
After placing second in the west region, he has earned his shot.
“With this conference, it was tough. But this was my goal and what I was shooting for,” Henken said.
The difficult road Henken faced on the way to his bid in the National Championships is evident – four wrestlers that Henken has competed against in WIAC competition have also qualified for the National Championship Tournament.
However, the fact that Henken has experience against the foes he will face in Cedar Rapids Friday and Saturday has given him an opportunity to prepare.
“We have film on some guys, so we can sit down and watch the film to get in a good mental state and know what to shoot for and what to defend against,” Henken said.
D-III wrestlers nationwide had the week of March 3-9 off in order to prepare for the National Championship Tournament. Henken and his coaching staff have used the time to shore up areas of Henken’s technique in anticipation for the tournament.
“We want to see Tyler improve combining moves in the top position, which is his strongest position,” head wrestling coach Chris Walter said.
Henken added that he wants to get better on his feet in order to improve his chances of landing takedowns.
Walter has emphasized to Henken the importance of capitalizing on his opportunity at the National Championship Tournament.
“This is his shot to go. You’re not guaranteed two more shots your junior and senior year; this could be it,” Walter said. “Whenever you make it to Nationals, you have got to make it count.”
Henken will begin the National Championship Tournament against No. 5 seed Paul Marcello from Johns Hopkins University. Marcello is 22-8 this season.