FARGO — Patrick Kennedy lives in West Concord township in Minnesota, which is in the Pine Island School District, but he attends Kasson-Mantorville High School in the southeastern part of the state. He figures under 1,000 people live in his township.
“I live in a really weird spot,” he said. “It’s small. Real small.”
So, without the facilities that a lot of kids in the metro areas like the Twin Cities enjoy, he makes do with what he has.
“I think the small-town kids learn to do stuff on their own,” Kennedy said. “We don’t have tons of money, we can’t do anything we want but our parents get it done.”
He didn’t always have a ride into town so he did workouts on his own. For instance, he would do “stupid stuff” two or three times a day like tying 45-pound weight plates to a hose and drag them up a hill.
“That’s how some country kids get it done,” Kennedy said.
The country kid got it done Tuesday afternoon at his Marines Junior National Freestyle title match at the Fargodome. He easily defeated Gerrit Nijenhuis of Eighty Four, Pa., by technical fall, 10-0. The match didn’t reach the second period ending in 2 minutes, 22 seconds.
“My attitude this whole weekend in life was ‘relentless,’” Kennedy said.
He’s relentless at the sport. He’s been known to get up at 2 a.m., go out to his garage and do 50 to 100 pullups. Why? He starts thinking about a Russian wrestler that he hopes to face in the future.
The wee hours in West Concord township is about the same as the competing hours in Russia, he figures. Iowa legend Dan Gable was said to do the same thing back in his day.
“I don’t know, probably,” he said. “I’m trying to be better than Dan Gable.”
Kennedy, who has one year of high school left, has already committed to the University of Iowa. He faced a fellow Big Ten Conference commit in Nijenhuis who is headed to Purdue in 2020. That wasn’t a factor, Kennedy said.
“I sat down in 10th grade and wrote down my goals,” Kennedy said. “I put Olympic champion, four-time (NCAA) national champion and a world champion. I’ve never had a high school bucket list. The end goal is in my mind.”
Another smaller-town Minnesotan, Blake West from Owatonna, didn’t fare as well in the 106-pound title match. Andre Gonzales from San Diego was too quick for West in a decision by technical fall. The 19-7 score ended 5:55 into the match.
“Headlock was there every time,” Gonzales said. “I knew he was one of the top kids in the country, went out there and put it all on the line.”
The two wrestled last month in the Junior Duals and Gonzales said he didn’t do much different the second time around.
“He runs in at me, so headlock him all day,” Gonzales said. “I knew it was going to be there.”
Gonzales is from an area of the country that hasn’t produced many champions in Fargo.
“I really haven’t started summer yet, just grinding in the room every day,” Gonzales said. “I’m ready to go have some fun now.”
West and Nijenhuis weren’t the only ones to go down by technical fall. It happened five other times with Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge, Iowa, at 113, Angelo Rini of Kirtland, Ohio, at 126, Dominick Serrano of Windsor, Colo., at 132, Padraic Gallagher at 160 and Braxton Amos at 220 turning the trick.
Championship match results
100 pounds: Daniel Sheen, St. Charles, Ill., dec. Brandon O’Brien, Cedar Rapids, Iowa., 2-1.
106: Andre Gonzales, San Diego, tech. fall Blake West, Owatonna, Minn., 19-7 5:55.
113: Drake Ayala, Fort Dodge, Iowa., tech. Fall Nico Provo, Stratford, Conn., 19-8, 4:44.
120: Anthony Molton, Lockport, Ill., dec. Jakason Burks, Omaha, 17-16.
126: Angelo Rini, Kirtland, Ohio, tech fall Ethen Miller, Parkville, Mo., 14-4, 4:05.
132: Dominick Serrano, Windsor, Colo. tech fall Michael Burnett, Elryia, Ohio, 10-0, 2:58.
138: Joshua Saunders, St. Louis, dec. Ridge Lovett, Post Falls, Idaho, 5-3.
145: Anthony Echemendia, Tucson, Ariz., dec. Victor Voinovich, Brecksville, Ohio, 10-4.
152: Jace Luchau, Selma, Calif., dec. John Martin Best, Vienna, W. Va., 8-2.
160: Padraic Gallagher, Chesterland, Ohio, tech fall Cade Devos, Altoona, Iowa, 12-2, 2:55.
170: Patrick Kennedy, West Concord, Minn., tech fall Gerrit Nijenhuis, Eighty Four, Pa., 10-0, 2:20.
182:Abe Assad, Carol Stream, Ill., dec. Dustin Plott, Tuttle, Okla., 8-2.
195: Jonovan Smith, Encino, Calif., dec. Cole Urbas, Port Matilda, Pa., 11-6.
220: Braxton Amos, Mineral Wells, W. Va., tech fall Dorian Crosby, Erie, Pa., 10-0, 2:23.
285: Luke Luffman, Urbana, Ill., dec. Aydin Guttridge, Rockford, Ill., 4-1.