Jayhawks Following Schimek’s Lead To Iowa

Jayhawks Following Schimek’s Lead To Iowa

Article copied from Jamestown Post Journal (http://www.post-journal.com/sports/local-sports/2019/02/jayhawks-following-schimeks-lead-to-iowa/)

When Kris Schimek arrived at Niagara County Community College as a freshman in 2011, he figured he was destined to be a backup on the wrestling team.

"Coach (Keith) Maute recruited me, because he didn't want Mercyhurst North East or Jamestown Community College to have me," Schimek said. "He recruited me to back up the kid who was ranked first in the country at the same weight."

Well, guess what?

Schimek flattened the more highly touted wrestler in the first tournament of the season, prompting Maute to send him a text, predicting that his diamond-in-the rough from Cherry Creek would become an All-American.

"We never looked back from that," Schimek said.

In fact, he was an NJCAA runner-up that year. As a sophomore, he was again an All-American, finishing fourth in the nation, which ultimately landed him at Ithaca College where he compiled a 35-4 record and another All-American campaign after placing fourth in the country his junior year. Although he was unable to compete his senior year due to the birth of his daughter, Schimek finished his college career as a three-time All-American with a 108-34 mark.

"It meant a lot. You can't take that away from me," Schimek said of his collegiate successes. "The only things that mean more in my life are getting married and the birth of my children. That All-American status, being in the national finals, it's euphoric. You just can't explain it unless you do it, I guess."

Fast-forward nearly four years.

Schimek, now the head coach at Jamestown CC, boarded a bus last night for Council Bluffs, Iowa, the site of the NJCAA Championships on Friday and Saturday. He and assistant coach Austin Lynn hope that the group of seven Jayhawks who qualified will represent the program well and, hopefully, come home with the same kind of feelings he had just a few short years ago.

"We're building," he said of his 14th-ranked program. " … The product is in the making. The foundation has been built. We're just putting on the finishing touches."

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The Jayhawk wrestlers who are making the trip to nationals are sophomore Cameron Page (184 pounds), freshman Daniel Torres (174), sophomore Nick Jones (285) — all three won titles at the Eastern District I Championships earlier this month — freshman Wyatt Holley (197), sophomore Nick Kozlowski (133), freshman Paul Manning (125) and sophomore Ben Winkler (141). Manning and Winkler are wild-card entries in the national tournament.

Page and Jones will be making their second straight trip to nationals. Page, a Falconer Central School graduate, finished seventh last year, but is seeded No. 1 this time around.

"He's got a tough second-round match against the second-ranked guy, who didn't get seeded because he lost his district to a kid Cameron has beaten,"Schimek said. "I have no doubt he can do it."

Schimek also has confidence in Torres, the Cassadaga Valley graduate, who was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the district championship.

"His work ethic has kind of spoken for itself," Schimek said. "They seeded him third (at the districts). I said, 'I don't care, we're going to win anyways and he dominated everyone."

A seventh seed at nationals, Schimek likes Torres' chances.

"I just keep telling him, 'One match at a time,'" Schimek said.

Jones lost in the round of 12 at last year's national championship.

"This has got to be his year," Schimek said of the Dunkirk High School graduate. "He's worked harder this year. … We pushed him a lot and we butted heads all season, but last year he was 15-13 and this year he's 24-10."

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Jones' dramatic improvement mirrors that of Schimek's program.

"We're building," Schimek said. "It's just like anything. In downtown Jamestown when they started building the National Comedy Center, now people see what it's starting to become. When you get a finished product, it's like, 'Wow, this is really nice.' That's what we're trying to do here."

So far, so very, very good.

"Call it toddler steps," Schimek said. "We're not running yet."

But the Jayhawks are in the race nevertheless.

Now the question is this: Can they beat everyone else to the finish line?

Schimek and company will find out this weekend.

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