MOUNT PLEASANT — Jake Kadel always wanted to be a wrestling coach.
The New London High School and University of Iowa graduate never thought it would happen this fast or this way.
Kadel, who is the interim head wrestling coach at Iowa Wesleyan University, started his coaching career on the right foot.
Iowa Wesleyan won five of nine games played and came away with a 27-17 win over Waldorf University on Wednesday night at Ruble Arena.
The Tigers improved to 2-1 in head-to-head, but more importantly they are 1-0 up and heading in the right direction under Kadel.
Kadel was up for the challenge and passed his first test as a head coach with flying colors.
“It’s a good step in the right direction, especially for this year,” Kadel said. “Our kids and the program have been through a lot of adversity this year. For them to come out and get this win today was a testament to their work ethic and how badly they want it tonight. Overall, I think we had a pretty good performance. We still have a lot to do, but so does everyone. It’s a step in the right direction. We just have to keep moving forward.”
Kadel is something of a local wrestling legend. He was a three-time state semi-finalist and four-time conference champion in New London, posting a career record of 189-13.
Kadel racked up a 23-18 career record at Iowa, graduating in 2015.
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Kadel spent time as an assistant wrestling coach at St. John’s Jesuit High School and Academy in Toledo, Ohio, as a wrestling instructor at the Hard Drive Performance Center in Cedar Rapids, and as a coach at volunteer wrestling club at Ubasa Wrestling Academy in North Liberty.
Kadel spent last season as an assistant coach under Shawn Contos and was named interim head coach when Contos was fired by the college last month.
The Tigers got off to a quick start. After a double forfeit at 125 pounds, Kyle Thibodeaux pinned Alfredo Moreno in 1 minute 30 seconds at 133 pounds to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
Iowa Wesleyan would never hang around. Francisco Mendez posts a major 1-3 decision over Mahlik Ball at 149 to give the Tigers a 10-8 lead.
Iowa Wesleyan has won three straight to take control. Austin Abitua pinned Anthony Salvo in 29 seconds at 165, Caelen Shannon scored an 18-0 technical fall over Cristian Martinez at 174 and New London graduate Javis Kroeger was forfeited at 184.
That gave Iowa Wesleyan a 27-8 lead.
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While the Tigers have lost the last two games, they came away with the first double win of Kadel’s career.
“Nothing has really changed too much,” Kadel said. “We’ve changed some aspects of it. Our team has come a lot closer, which is ultimately the most important thing. Going forward, we just have to put our team on the same page, believe in each other and supporting each other is the most important thing. I think we’ve seen a 180 degree turn in our team, which will ultimately contribute to our success going forward this year. That’s important. That team bond and family feel is what we want here, we’re starting to get it and it’s only going to keep getting better.
Assistant coach Steven Holloway, a graduate of Mediapois High School and the University of Iowa, will take a handful of male wrestlers to compete in the Cliff Keen Mike Duroe Invitational on Saturday at Cornell College.
Kadel will take the Iowa Wesleyan women’s team to a tournament in York, Nebraska on Saturday.
The Iowa Wesleyan men’s team will be back in double action when they host Saint Ambrose at 6 p.m. on January 19 at Ruble Arena.
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While Kadel was happy to take the win in front of a sizeable home crowd, he knows there is a lot of work to be done as the season heads into the home stretch.
“We have a very young squad,” Kadel said. “We all have freshmen and sophomores. We’re competing against other teams that have been more established and have higher grades that we don’t have. That’s another testament to our athletes — to go out there and get that experience, which is important. Ultimately, these duels and tournaments that they’re in are going to prepare them for the conference and the national championships coming up in February and March. That’s the ultimate goal.
Iowa Wesleyan 27, Waldorf 17
125 — Double package. 133 — 133 Kyle Thibodeaux (IW) pinned Alfredo Moreno, 1:30. 141 — Tyler Okada (WU) maj. Dec. Ray Hernandez, 12-3. 149 — Francisco Mendez (IW) maj. Dec. Dalton Thorson, 13-3. 157 — Maj Milestone Strong (WU). Dec. Brent Ward, 13-4. 165 — Austin Abitua (IW) pinned Anthony Salvo, 0:29. 174 — Tech. Caelen Shannon (IW). dropping Cristian Martinez, 18-0. 184 — Javis Krieger (IW) won by forfeit. 197 — Izaiah Ieramia (WU) pinned Elias Cordero, 5:50. 285 — Donte Wood (WU) Dec. Wyatt Nelson, 6-2.
Recordings: Iowa Wesleyan 2-1, Waldorf 1-3.