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Post Bulletin Wrestler of the Year: K-M’s Patrick Kennedy

March 24, 2019

When it’s 2 in the morning and parents Matt and Tammy Kennedy hear grunting in their garage, they know now not to worry.

It’s just son Patrick, pursuing his wrestling dreams.

“I’m on a different path than most high school kids,” said Patrick Kennedy, a Kasson-Mantorville junior. “Sometimes I’ll wake up at 2 in the morning and feel like I need to get a workout in. So I’ll go in the garage and start doing pull-ups and pushups.”

Patrick Kennedy is a lot of things — a wrestling star, a workout warrior, obsessive, polite, fearless, driven, studious, loyal, team-centric, and oh yes, a budding chef.

“I like to cook a lot, especially steaks,” Kennedy said. “I pan-sear them or oven-grill them. I do them a lot of different ways. I’ve been drawn to good food ever since I was in Kindergarten.”

But for all the things that Kennedy is, there is one thing that he definitely is not — content.

And in wrestling, that’s made all the difference. It’s what separates the 182-pounder from virtually everyone else and has turned him into a three-time state champion, unbeaten the past two high school seasons (79-0), and this year’s Post Bulletin Wrestler of the Year.

It’s what has him cranking out pushups and pull-ups at 2 a.m. in the Kennedy garage.

“Every day that Patrick Kennedy wakes up, he’s thinking about wrestling,” Kasson-Mantorville coach Jamie Heidt said. “He always feels like there’s someone out there gunning for him. Patrick is the type of guy who always wants to challenge himself, to see if he can rank higher than he is right now. He wakes up every day wanting to get better.”

ALL ABOUT TEAM

Kennedy is good enough right now to not only have snared three straight state titles, but to be ranked fourth in the nation among high schoolers at 170 pounds.

Kennedy committed to wrestling power University of Iowa in June. But he doesn’t spend much time thinking about that yet. That’s because there’s still too much for him to accomplish in a Kasson-Mantorville singlet.

The way Kennedy describes it, to be part of Kasson-Mantorville wrestling is to be in a brotherhood. It’s one more reason he’s ascended so high in his sport. Led by head wrestling coach Heidt — who’s considered as good and committed as it gets in Minnesota high school wrestling — it’s a group of guys who are all-in, all the time.

“We’re not just a team during the wrestling season, we’re a team all year long,” Kennedy said. “We put in a lot of time together getting better as wrestlers and as people. I love these guys like my brothers. And the community support we get in K-M wrestling is incredible. When we don’t perform for them like we hope to, it hurts.”

Kennedy, then, was hurting on Feb. 16. That’s the day that the KoMets lost 30-23 in the Section One, Class AA finals to Simley, which then went on to easily win the state team title. K-M was ranked No. 1 at the time and had been favored to claim its fourth straight state team championship.

When it didn’t happen, Kennedy was devastated.

“Actually, I can’t call this a successful season because we didn’t make it to state,” he said. “That was my No. 1 goal, for K-M to win the state title again. It hurts knowing we didn’t do it for our community.”

To finish his time at Kasson-Mantorville with a state team championship is what drives Kennedy now more than ever as he’s already begun training for his senior season. But there are other things to attain, too, before he shows up two autumns from now in Iowa City.

One is to win an individual title in the April 26-28 U.S. Open Junior Tournament (18-21-year-olds) in Las Vegas. Do that and Kennedy would qualify for the World Team Trials, May 16-18 in Raleigh, N.C. That tournament is a determinant for who wrestles for Team USA.

Kennedy hopes that all of that one day leads to his ultimate goal.

“I want to be an (Olympic) gold medal champion,” Kennedy said, believing that the 2024 Games would be his first real opportunity. “To do that, I need to get better now.”

Kennedy went into this past offseason feeling the same way, yearning to get better. Kennedy was an anomaly to end the 2018 high school season. He won a state championship, yet went away disappointed.

He didn’t like the way he wrestled in the title match, winning 9-2. Kennedy said that he became content as the match wore on, ultimately putting things in cruise control.

SELDOM SATISFIED

Kennedy vowed to never let that happen again. He spent the spring, summer and fall demanding an exhausting approach from himself, in practices and matches.

He never waned from that style this high school season, pounding all of his opponents en route to a 46-0 record.

Kennedy had one goal prior to each match. It was to leave it exhausted.

“The one thing you always notice now about Patrick is that he comes off the mat shot,” Heidt said. “He’s going out and trying to bury his (opponents) and get them on their back. Patrick knows that when he feels that tired, his opponent feels worse. That’s the one area he’s improved in most this year, keeping a more consistent pace no matter what position he’s in.”

There was no chance that Kennedy would veer from that grind in this year’s state finals, as he took on Perham’s Zachary Peterson. He even corralled Heidt moments before the championship, delivering him a message.

“Patrick grabbed me before the finals and said, ‘Don’t let me coast,’” Heidt said. “That was on his mind, ever since last year.”

There was no coasting from Kennedy. Instead, there was nothing but frenetic domination from him before the referee slapped the mat just 1 minute, 54 seconds into the match, Kennedy a winner by pin.

Mission accomplished. And now, it’s on to the next one for Patrick Kennedy.