MINERAL POINT — A gruesome knee injury at last year’s conference tournament effectively ended Drew Hennessey’s bid for a state championship.
So far, nothing this year has been able to slow the talented Iowa–Grant/Highland senior.
Hennessey a total of 2:02 of mat time to pin his three opponents at Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Mineral Point Sectional en route to the 220-pound title and a return trip to the state tournament.
Hennessey (37–1) pinned Brookwood’s Cameron Zimmerman in 39 seconds, then stuck North Crawford/Seneca’s Tyler Heinz 22 seconds into the semifinals, before pinning Fennimore senior Brayden Leffler (24–11) at the 1:01 mark of the first period in the finals.
This will be Hennessey’s third trip to state. He placed fifth at 182 pounds two years ago as a sophomore and finished second at 170 three years ago as a freshman.
“We are very excited for Drew,” said Iowa–Grant/Highland head coach Ryan Allen. “Not only did he qualify for state for a third time, he did it in a very dominating fashion. Three first period pins was pretty awesome to see and be a part of.
Hennessey dislocated his knee cap in the conference semifinals. He withdrew from the tournament and tried to wrestle at regionals a week later, but finished third and did not qualify for sectionals.
“When Drew dislocated his knee at conference, it was bad,” said Allen. “He tried to wrestle at regionals, but was basically on one leg.”
Last year’s injury will only serve as motivation as Hennessey enters his final state tournament.
“I know we are all excited for Drew and so is he, but he definitely has some unfinished business to take care of when we get to Madison,” said Allen.
Hennessey (37–1), who is the top-ranked 220-pounder in Division 3 heading into the state tournament, has just one loss this year, a quarterfinal loss at Bi-State to Danny Striggow of Onro, Minn.
Hennessey will have a first-round bye when the D3 tournament begins Thursday night at the Kohl Center in Madison.
He will then face the winner of Thursday’s preliminary match between Athens junior Connor Westfall (30–6) and Cedar Grove–Belgium senior Brett Feind (32–12).
Edgar junior Ethan Heil, who is on the other half of the bracket enters the state tournament ranked second behind Hennessey with a perfect record of 32–0.
“I feel great about Drew wrestling at state,” added Allen. “He’s been there, and he’s been in the finals even. He knows what kind of atmosphere it is up there. He knows what its like to be put in the spotlight. Drew is the kind of wrestler who enjoys the spotlight and lots of pressure. That is when he really shines. Drew just needs to be himself and wrestle like he has been all year.”
WIAA Division 3
Mineral Point Sectional
(from Saturday, Feb. 16 @ Mineral Point)
Top 10 team scores — 1.Fennimore 195, 2.Mineral Point 101, 3.Lancaster 99.5, 4.Ithaca/Weston 62, 5.Darlington/Black Hawk 45, 6.La Crosse Aquinas 43.5, 7.Riverdale 39, 8.Pecatonica/Argyle 34, 9.North Crawford/Seneca 27.5, 10.De Soto 26...13(tie).Iowa–Grant/Highland 24.
Iowa–Grant/Highland state qualifiers
220 — Drew Hennessey (37-1) placed 1st and scored 24.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Drew Hennessey (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 37-1 won by fall over Cameron Zimmerman (Brookwood) 13-21 (Fall 0:39)
Semifinal - Drew Hennessey (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 37-1 won by fall over Tyler Heinz (No. Crawford/Seneca) 19-14 (Fall 0:22)
1st Place Match - Drew Hennessey (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 37-1 won by fall over Brayden Leffler (Fennimore) 24-11 (Fall 1:01)