Columbus East wrestling coach Chris Cooper said there isn’t much difference between a double-leg takedown on the wrestling mat and a standard tackle on the football field.

The technique and positioning are pretty much the same, Cooper said.

Columbus North senior wrestler Brigham Kleinhenz knows more about that than most, considering the Class 6A football All-State First Team middle linebacker led the Bull Dogs with 154 tackles this season. He uses some of those same skills while wrestling in the 182-pound weight class.

“I think of it more how wrestling helps play football, hand positioning and tackling just in general” Kleinhenz said. “I learned that from wrestling, and it helps with football just in athletics, knowing how to move your body, running laterally, just everything that goes with athletics.”

His teammate Tay Wells said the main reason why he even picked up wrestling was because of football. The junior outside linebacker said the constant movement in wrestling helps him with his football conditioning.

The more conditioned he is the more effective he’s able to be on defense. It’s also important to stay aggressive at all times on the field as a linebacker, and Wells said wrestling helps him keep that aggressive fire going.

Participating in wrestling helps better athletes on the field, but playing football also has it’s positives during wrestling season. North wrestling coach Justin Cooper (no relation to Chris Cooper) said it’s always a plus for his wrestlers to have some sort of athletic background and football helps give them that.

Chris Cooper has two football offensive linemen on his wrestling roster, Jacob Bolte (220) and Dalton Anderson (285). One of the main ways Chris Cooper has witnessed football benefiting Bolt and Anderson is during the hand battles that take place on the mat.

There is a lot of hand jockeying for position during wrestling match, and many offensive linemen learn how to win those same hand battles while blocking.

“Good positioning in one sports equals good positioning in the other,” Chris Cooper said. “… How they hand fight in a football game is very similar on how we hand fight in a wrestling match. Moving guys hand, condition, and moving your feet on both sports, those things really translate well.”

Kleinhenz is hoping that those 154 tackles can translate into enough double-leg takedowns that will get him to the state finals this season. Kleinhenz had a tough draw in last year’s semistate and got eliminated in the ticket round.

“Hopefully this year I’ll get lucky and got to stat and wrestle hard,” Kleinhenz said. “I beat some kids last year who made it to state, but unfortunately I had some tough kids in my weight class and didn’t make it out.”

Duel threat varsity wrestlers

Brigham Kleinhenze

School: Columbus North

Year: Senior

Weight class: 182

Football position: Linebacker

Tay Wells:

School: Columbus North

Year: Junior

Weight Class: 195

Football position: Linebacker

Dillon England

School: Columbus North

Year: Junior

Weight class: 160

Football position: Quarterback

Jacob Bolte

School: Columbus East

Year: Junior

Weight Class: 200

Football position: Offensive lineman

Dalton Anderson

School: Columbus East

Year: junior

Weight Class: 290

Football position: Offensive Lineman

Author photo
Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.