MADISON — It’s been a long, winding road to the top for Iowa–Grant/Highland senior Drew Hennessey.
The talented multi-sport star at Highland High School made surprise run to the state finals three years ago as a freshman and his future seemed limitless. Then, Hennessey suffered a gruesome knee injury at the conference meet a year ago that derailed his junior season, but he finally reached the pinnacle of prep wrestling Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Hennessey, known for his lightning-quick first period pins, was pushed to the limit, but ultimately prevailed over Edger junior Ethan Heil 6–5 in the 220-pound Division 3 state championship match to claim Iowa–Grant’s 16th individual state wrestling title.
“It was a great weekend for Drew and the Iowa–Grant/Highland wrestling program,” said Panthers’ head coach Ryan Allen. “We are all very proud of him and what he has accomplished not only this year but in the last four years.”
In the finals, Hennessey jumped out to a 6–1 lead over Heil, getting three early takedowns. But after a reversal in the second period the lead was cut it half at 6–3.
“In the third period Drew was focused on not getting turned and he did just that,” said Allen. “He did give up a couple stalling points but he knew what he needed to do to win and got it done.”
Hennessey began his state title run Friday morning with a second-period pin of Athens junior Conner Westfall (33–8).
He then pinned Coleman sophomore Spencer Karban (28–16) just 28 seconds into their semifinal bout Friday night.
Hennessey finished his senior season 40–1 overall after going 37–5 as a junior. His only loss this year was a quarterfinal loss to Danny Striggow (44–2) of Orono, Minn. at the Bi-State Classic in La Crosse in late December.
Hennessey finished his career with an overall record of 145–28. He was a two-time conference champion and a three-time state qualifier. Hennessey finished second at 170 pounds as a freshman and fifth at 182 as a sophomore before capturing a state title Saturday night.
“It was great to watch a kid like Drew, who lost in the finals as a freshman, come back his senior year and get it done,” said Allen. “He has put a great deal of time and hard work into this sport and he got to reap the benefits this weekend. Drew is a great kid on and off the mat and is a great example of a three-sport athlete who competes not only for himself but for his team and school. I could not be more proud of him.”
WIAA Division 3 State Tournament
(from Feb. 21–23 @ Kohl Center, Madison)
Top 10 team scores — 1.Stratford 130, 2.Coleman 104, 3.Fennimore 86, 4.Wayauwega–Fremont 74, 5.Cadott 56, 6.Boyceville 53, 7.Random Lake 50.5, 8.Lancaster 49, 9.Bonduel 43, 10.Saint Croix Falls 40.
Iowa–Grant/Highland state qualifiers
D3-220 — Drew Hennessey (40-1) placed 1st and scored 24.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Drew Hennessey (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 40-1 won by fall over Connor Westfall (Athens) 33-8 (Fall 3:27)
Semifinal - Drew Hennessey (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 40-1 won by fall over Spencer Karban (Coleman) 28-16 (Fall 0:28)
1st Place Match - Drew Hennessey (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 40-1 won by decision over Ethan Heil (Edgar) 34-1 (Dec 6-5)