HARTINGTON — Youth wrestling is alive and well in Hartington.
They come in all shapes, sizes and ages and are either boy or girl, but one thing they all have in common?
They are ‘Heroes.’
The League of Heroes is a wrestling club based out of Hartington that works with kids from preschool through eighth grade and has been doing the work on the mat for the past three years. Most of their kids come from Holy Trinity or Hartington-Newcastle Public School.
The group recently competed at the State Youth Wrestling USA championships two weeks ago in Grand Island.
State championships were brought back home by Aiden Schrempp (sixth grade) and Evie Freeman (fifth grade), while Bodie Hochstein (sixth grade) took third.
All three have advanced to be a part of the Nebraska Dual Team at the Heartland USA Elementary National Duals in Council Bluffs, Iowa, April 16-18.
Head coach John Freeman - father of Evie - is very impressed with his current collection of talent.
“The group of kids we have now is talented and they work hard in practice,” John Freeman said. “We have a group of fifth-eighth graders that are really talented. The young kids are, too, it’s just that the numbers aren’t there.
“We were competing against Omaha, Lincoln and Columbus teams and we figured out of our class - C - we were second best at state.”
The three that are advancing to Council Bluffs are all feeling good about their accomplishments and their chances moving forward.
Evie Freeman competed in the open division with boys and won one match but took the girls flight by storm.
“It’s just amazing and I was super surprised when I first got to go to state,” she said. “It was fun wrestling against the boys, but I was disappointed when I didn’t place. The boys that I wrestle, they push me to be the best I can be. They do not hold back.”
She is happy to have made it onto the Select Team, though.
Schrempp is all about the sport and he knew he would be more than ready to go.
“It was fun seeing everyone pretty much placing high against some pretty good athletes,” Schrempp said. “The distance for me is that I wake up every morning around six and I go train and then I go to school. Then I go back to the gym after school, and I would always be the first one at practice and the last one training even more. It’s the hard work, Anyone can do it, it’s just the time you put into it.”
Schrempp was put into older age groups when he first started at the age of five.
“I finished fourth in the first tournament and I thought I could be good at this wrestling deal,” Schrempp said. “It kind of sold me on putting in the hard work to keep driving to be the best.”
Bodie Hochstein is pleased to be able to be a part of the journey.
“I feel like it’s going to be really fun,” Bodie said. “I just tried to get my shots in fast and get my moves on top. I usually try to do that and pin them quick. I just need to keep moving and not keep my feet in the same place.”
Coach Freeman sees the talents that have taken the three Select qualifiers to the heights as being very special.
“Alden is a dedicated wrestler that works really hard and puts in more time than anybody there,” he said. “He loves the sport, and you can tell: He was just focused at the state tournament. As coaches, we didn’t really have to talk to him much. Bode was also focused and he is very talented and does a very good job. He always practices hard in practice and doesn’t go easy on anybody.
“Evie doesn’t take it easy either, and she and I practice a little bit, so she gets a little bit extra there. We have a really good connection: She is always listening and learning that way. Her confidence level is way up there as well.”
A total of over four dozen grapplers works out of League of Heroes.
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