Akron-Westfields Henrich Hammers Way Through Final Season!

By Jeff Budlong for The Predicament

DES MOINES – It is not supposed to be as easy as John Henrich made it look.

Iowa prides itself on hosting one of the toughest state wrestling tournaments in the nation, and the Akron-Westfield senior completed an undefeated three-year run Saturday night at the Iowa High School Wrestling Championships when he pinned Don Bosco freshman Carson Tenold (42-5) in 2:42.

So how will the champ celebrate?

“Get back on the mat Monday and start training hard,” he said. “I think I did pretty good – some things I could have done better – but I got the job done. It feels good to finally cap off my goals and end the high school season on a positive note.”

Henrich (45-0), who will wrestle next at the University of Nebraska, walked out of Wells Fargo Arena Saturday night with a 132-0 record with the Westerners since transferring from Rapid City, South Dakota before the start of his sophomore season.

What makes this run to a title stand out from his previous two state performances is the level of dominance he displayed. Henrich not only didn’t lose a match in his final season, he didn’t give up a point.

That continued in the finals as he built a 4-0 lead before flipping Tenold for the pin. Henrich didn’t show much emotion after the win, but it was his best performance in a state final after winning his previous two by a single point.

“It felt amazing because going out there it felt like I was ready to roll and there was nothing that could possibly go wrong,” he said. “I was in that frame of mind that I was going to go out there and get that ‘W.’”

Akron-Westfield coach John Sievert has seen Henrich’s work and development up close, so it doesn’t surprise him with anything his wrestler does.

“He is the one that sweats every day and he pushes himself,” Sievert said. “This year he was more dominant. He has improved in pretty much every position because he is tough to ride, not very many people hold him down.

“On top he is a hammer. He doesn’t like to give up a point or let anybody up. He is a monster, and on his feet he is offensive and impossible to score on.”

The seeds for his relentless style were planted during his three years wrestling varsity in South Dakota where seventh-graders are allowed to compete. He placed third at state as a seventh-grader, went 1-2 in eighth-grade and finished third as a freshman.

Henrich’s last high school loss, a 6-2 state semifinal setback his freshman season, came to eventual state champion Hunter O’Connor of Sioux Falls Lincoln.

Henrich’s next challenge is moving to the college level, one he appears to be relishing.

“I have higher goals than just the Iowa state tournament,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter (if people remember me) because I am just going to prove it over and over and over again. Hopefully that is what I can do.”