116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Continual hard work and adversity through challenges pays off.
The Xavier High School wrestling team was able to finish a successful season with five state qualifiers — Caelen Shannon, Christian Stanek, Ivan Thomas, Ronan Thomas and Ryan Volk — because of those challenges.
Stanek placed third at 145 pounds, Thomas fifth at 170 and Volk sixth at 182.
Fueling the fire throughout the season was the leadership of the five seniors: Shannon, Ivan Thomas, Volk, Michael Steffen and Xander Eberle.
'The seniors this year had a huge impact on our success, each of them brought something different to the team,' Coach Ryan Chambers said. 'The combination of what they all brought to the team made this group special. They each had the quality to lead by example and showed how important working hard in practice was.'
One senior has dealt with multiple setbacks and was able to finish his year exactly where he wanted. Ivan Thomas suffered a neck injury and had two meniscus surgeries that caused him to miss his sophomore and junior seasons.
'Although the injuries were a very tough part of my life, it helped me understand that life has a lot of hardships,' he said. 'I used the hardships to recover and come back stronger.
'It felt great returning to state and placing. It obviously wasn't my final goal to place the way I did, but it was a good return.'
Thomas' dad, Pat, has seen wrestling shape Ivan into the person he is today.
'Wrestling has instilled discipline in Ivan, especially with the unfortunate injuries he had during his sophomore and junior year,' Pat said. 'He had to work even harder to recover from his injuries and surgeries and then make up for the time lost by not being able to wrestle competitively for two years.
'It was awesome to see him have a great wrestling year because of his hard work.'
Another senior who placed at the state tournament, Volk started wrestling in seventh grade and has been a dedicated worker ever since. His dad, Ed, has seen his growth since he started.
'First, Ryan became a student of wrestling learning how to wrestle, then he put in the work in the weight room to develop physically. It's been very impressive,' Ed said. 'His work ethic and being fearless has helped him in both wrestling and football. It didn't matter whether he was taking on a highly ranked wrestler or division one offensive tackle his fight was the same: fearless and relentless.'
Shannon, who recently committed to wrestle at Iowa Wesleyan University, enjoyed the season and is looking forward to the future.
'I am glad that I was able to complete my goal of making it to state,' Shannon said. 'I will miss the coaches and the team the most from the Xavier wrestling program, they have made me the person I am today. I love the competition and the team aspect of wrestling.
'I am excited I get to continue competing in college.'
The seniors this year left a great example for upcoming teams to follow.
'What made this team different from others was their beliefs and confidence in themselves,' Chambers said. 'They worked harder and trusted their training. They did not think that they could be outworked.
'The seniors encouraged and helped the underclassmen trust the system.'
Stanek will be a senior leader next year and hopes to carry over what the seniors demonstrated this season.
'The seniors have shown a good example of working hard and having fun,' he said. 'I am looking forward to next year.
'My goal is to win a state championship.
Chambers and Stanek are dedicated to bringing the work ethic and mentality of the seniors into next season and are looking forward to what will come in the future for the Xavier wrestling program.