The Drill: Generals' DeJong travels far and wide for wrestling titles
SIBLEY, Iowa -- Hunter DeJong might be forgiven if he feels a little lonely in the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School wrestling room this season. He is the only returning Generals wrestler among five Iowa state tournament place winners from the 2016-17 campaign.
But DeJong is too busy, and too focused, to notice the change. He’s determined to capture a state individual championship this season after placing fourth in Class 1A as a junior at 195 pounds.
The lanky, well-muscled senior has been a winner for Sibley-Ocheyedan for several seasons already. He was understandably disappointed at not placing at state in his freshman and sophomore years, but as he’s matured he’s made strides in several wrestling categories. He is a two-time Fargo All-American and two-time UWW Cadet All-American. He captured a freestyle gold medal at the Cadet Pan American Games championships in 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Yeah, he’s been around.
Good on his feet -- especially, he says, “for a big guy” -- DeJong is going to work in the wrestling loft in the Sibley-Ocheyedan gym in order to improve on the bottom. He also says he’d like to learn to use his weight better while riding opponents.
After graduation, he plans to continue fine-tuning his moves at Iowa State University, where he says he notices a family atmosphere and where he says he knows he will be pushed.
When you want to be the best, you want to be pushed.
The Globe sports department interviewed DeJong recently and shot video footage of him during practice for another installment of The Drill. You can view the results online at www.dglobe.com.
Here’s a sample of the interview:
QUESTION: At the Iowa state individual tournament last season, you participated for third place at 195 pounds but lost 2-1 in a tiebreaker to Walker Even of Don Bosco to finish fourth. What are your personal goals for the 2017-18 campaign?
ANSWER: “My goal this year is to be undefeated, but also to be a state champion. I’m willing to do anything I have to. I’m willing to work harder than I ever had before.”
Q: What kind of team do you think Sibley-Ocheyedan has this year? Do you think it can dominate like it did a year ago?
A: “I feel like our team is a lot of young kids. Half our team are freshmen, but I still feel like we’ll be able to dominate. Maybe not as much, but we’ll still be a pretty stout team to beat this year.”
Q: When did you begin wrestling? What do you like about it?
A: “I started wrestling when I was in kindergarten. And the thing I love most is just being able to basically get away with anything within reason. You can be mad at someone and take it out on ‘em on the mat. That’s probably one of my most favorite things.”