Dominant duo leads KoMets to eighth place at Cheesehead Invitational
For Bennett Berge and Patrick Kennedy winning first place at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament was only the beginning as they both followed that up with first place finishes at the Cheesehead Invitational this past weekend.
Berge said winning Cheesehead for the first time was a rewarding experience.
“It was cool, it’s kind of like the state tournament for Minnesota. I mean if you win that you’re probably the best 170-pounder in the state,” he said.
However, to be the best you have to beat the best and he faced tougher opponents as he kept advancing.
Despite that stiffer competition, he said he never got anxious about finally winning the tournament.
“I just stay calm, it’s pretty easy to stay calm for me. I just wrestle; it’s just another match,” he said.
In addition to having the right mindset, he explained that his active hands helped him win the tournament.
“I think I was moving my hands pretty well and getting that guy moving to get to my shots,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kennedy also had success manipulating his opponents.
“I’ve been working a lot on top, being able to ride guys and get to their belly. This weekend I put a lot of guys on their belly and I put them on their back and so I felt good. I’m starting to get it down a little bit, but there’s a lot more room to improve there,” he said.
Even more improvement is a scary thought for Kennedy’s opponents as the three-time state individual champion
“The expectation for me is always to win. It’s a standard in my life to win at everything I do. The expectation is to go in there and win, maybe not win more dominate and I feel like I did a pretty good job of that,” he said.
Kennedy explained that he was able to dominate by combining his strong skills with his strong work ethic.
“I think I did a good job wrestling in every position. That’s the technique I’ve always used: just go out and wrestle with relentless effort,” he said.
Kennedy’s and Berge’s first-place finishes helped the K-M wrestling team earn eighth place at the Cheesehead Invitational.
In addition to seeing how they stack up against competition, Head Coach Jamie Heidt said Cheesehead and the recent Minnesota Christmas Tournament shows Berge, Kennedy, and the rest of the KoMets how they can get better.
“In certain situations, we competed well, and in others we got to improve on some things. That’s why you go to those tournaments, to get a lot of exposure. Not just exposure from other competition, but you get exposure from in tournament situations to see what they have to improve on,” he said. “It’s a challenging tournament, challenging not just from the standpoint of competition, but also the duration and the mental pressure it puts on us, so hopefully it helps our guys grow.”
He noted that one area where his wrestlers grew was their perseverance.
“The things you want to see in these type of tournaments are guys learning to fight back, guys learning to take it one match at a time, guys learning to compete at every match, every situation, every period and fight for every point,” he said.
Heidt also mentioned that the Minnesota Christmas Tournament, which took place the weekend before Christmas helped prepare the KoMets to do even better at the Cheesehead Invitational.
“Maybe guys that fell short or didn’t get to that point maybe they’re realizing now [how they have to improve] and we’re going to see them this week in practice making improvements because they know what they need to do and know what to expect come next week when we’re in a very similar situation at the Cheesehead,” he said.
That preparation seems to have helped as not only did Berge and Kennedy repeat as champions, but also Logan Vaughan and Jackson Kennedy each earned sixth place, while Kail Waynia reached eighth place.
With the Minnesota Christmas Tournament and the Cheesehead Invitational now in his rear-view mirror, Berge has his sights set on making the world team and competing for Team USA this summer.
Kennedy also has lofty goals for his wrestling career. He’s focused on earning NCAA titles, world and Olympic gold medals.
“I’m at about 12 percent of what the sport really gives me so I’m not close to what I can accomplish in the sport of wrestling so that’s what drives me,” he said.