First-year CEB wrestler Cody Hraban claims Great River crownLast Friday, Cloquet-Esko-Barnum's 187-pound Cody Hraban muscled his way past a pair of opponents on the mats, claiming the Great River Conference’s 215-pound wrestling title in Braham.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Cloquet senior Cody Hraban joined wrestling this winter in hopes of getting stronger for playing college football down the road.
Today, the Lumberjacks’ three-year starting outside linebacker might just want to think about competing in two sports in college.
Last Friday, the 187-pound Hraban muscled his way past a pair of opponents on the mats, claiming the Great River Conference’s 215-pound title in Braham.
“My friends tried to get me to join last year, but I passed,” said Hraban. “I didn’t think I was going to like it. But everyday now, I’m starting to like the sport more and more.”
The sight of the first-year wrestler becoming conference champ was thrilling for Cloquet-Esko-Barnum coach Al Denman.
“He’s a natural,” he said about Hraban. “To do what Cody’s done is something amazing in the sport of wrestling. You don’t see guys like him everyday.”
After receiving a first-round bye in the tournament, Hraban defeated Ogilvie’s sophomore Kyle Carda 9-5 in the semifinals, before handing Mille Lacs’ sophomore Gabe Tramm a 13-3 loss in the championship match.
At 187 pounds, most opponents he faces are nearly 30 pounds heavier than Hraban. But that doesn’t scare him.
“It’s draining,” said Hraban. “But I just keep working at it to get better and better.”
Working at it might be an understatement, according to Denman.
“He’s always after me to learn new things,” said Denman. “He even comes in during his open-lunch to get help. He’s just a dedicated wrestler who works so hard all of the time. I wish I had a hundred of him.”
During the season, the ‘Jacks have had their fair share of struggles on the mats. They ended their season in the Section 7AA team tournament with a crushing loss against Deer River Tuesday in Nashwauk.
In a year where CEB finished 3-20 as a team, Hraban’s medal-earning championship Friday was the highlight of the year.
“Cody learns so quickly, he’s freaky,” laughed Denman. “We’re always teaching him news moves and techniques. Usually it takes wrestlers long hours in the gym to perfect them. Cody is out there using them in his next match.”
But according to Hraban, the community has played a role in his success as well.
“It’s fun to hear all of the people cheering for you,” he said. “It makes me feel good to hear them and it only makes me work harder for not just me, but my team. Everyone has supported me so well in my first year. They’ve made it really enjoyable.”
With a 16-18 record this season, Hraban will receive a low seed in the upcoming Section 7AA individual tournament in North Branch Feb. 26-27, but he is optimistic.
“My goal is to finish in the top two in the section and make it to state,” said Hraban, who will compete at the 189-pound level at sections. “It’ll be tough, but I’m hoping for the best.”
His coach is also optimistic.
“It’ll be hard to compete at that level, it’s always so full with top-notch wrestlers,” said Denman. “But Cody’s as tough as they come. He’s a great kid with a wonderful attitude and hard work ethic. No one works harder than Cody, so we’ll see what happens.”
Along with Hraban, Esko eighth-grader Reid Borchardt is among the section favorites.