Kloucek picks up several big wins at Mitchell InviteIf wrestling fans didn’t know who Nathan Kloucek was before this weekend, they probably do now. The Bon Homme wrestler won the highly-competitive Jerry Opbroek Invitational as the No. 5 seed, knocking off some of the state’s best wrestlers at 145 pounds.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
If wrestling fans didn’t know who Nathan Kloucek was before this weekend, they probably do now.
The Bon Homme wrestler won the highly-competitive Jerry Opbroek Invitational as the No. 5 seed, knocking off some of the state’s best wrestlers at 145 pounds.
Kloucek, a junior, beat the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked Class A wrestlers at his weight class, along with the top-rated kid in Class B to win what’s called the toughest one-day tournament the state has to offer.
“This is one of the best things that has happened to me in my wrestling career,” Kloucek said. “I went out there with an open mind and did my best. I had nothing to lose.”
For upsetting three highly-ranked opponents and winning the Mitchell Invite, Kloucek has been named The Daily Republic’s player of week. The award is a weekly award, which is voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff.
Howard’s Dan Noonan was the second victim of the day. Noonan, who was 14-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class B at 145 pounds, was handed his first loss of the year after he was taken down in the first period and put to his back on a cradle.
Kloucek said the win was his biggest of the day.
“He really finished his shots against Noonan,” Bon Homme coach Mark Stoebner said. “That was the big difference this weekend, compared to the rest of the year, was the way he finished his takedowns.”
After defeating Noonan, Kloucek went on to beat the top-ranked Class A wrestler in the finals. He defeated Rex Lyon of Sturgis for his 16th win of the year. Kloucek won the match, 5-2.
“I knew Noonan beat Lyon earlier this year, so I thought I could win that match, but I was nervous because he was rated No. 1 in the state,” Kloucek said.
In his first match of the day, Kloucek defeated Mitchell’s Jason Greenway — who is ranked No. 2 in Class A — by decision.
Although not many wrestling fans knew Kloucek before Saturday, fans in the Bon Homme area got to see him at the state tournament as a sophomore.
Going into state with a 27-7 record, he took home a seventh-place showing and helped Bon Homme finish in 10th place.
Saturday, the Cavaliers finished in fourth, behind only Sturgis, Rapid City Stevens and conference rival Wagner.
After the tournament win, he’s 16-3 with some extra confidence, Stoebner said.
“I knew he had the potential to beat anyone,” the Bon Homme coach said. “We knew we had to take the fourth or fifth seed or get drawn in because of the competition. He was really looking forward to the tournament, because he knew the caliber of the guys that would be in that weight.”
Noonan, who’s still ranked No. 1 in Class B at 145 pounds, will presumably wrestle at the same weight at the state tournament. So quite possibly, Kloucek could meet up with him again later in the year.
With the big wins, Kloucek said his season goals changed. He now wants to improve on last year’s showing and place in the top four in state.
“He’s not someone a lot of people knew going in to the tournament,” Stoebner said. “He’s just a kid who’s a no-nonsense type of guy. If he wins, he wins, and if he loses, he puts himself on it. He had more confidence than I’ve seen him have all year.”