Le Mars Wrestling Invite

Hunter DeJong won a gold and silver medal at the recently concluded Cadet Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal

SIBLEY, Iowa | Standing on top of the podium with the National Anthem playing, Hunter DeJong had a different kind of feeling overcome him.

"When I had that USA singlet on and the flag was across my chest it made me feel like Superman, it was awesome," said DeJong, who is working on his own mulleted version of the Man of Steel. "(Hearing the National Anthem) was awesome and it gave me goosebumps when I was standing there."

It's hard to argue that with the results the Sibley-Ocheyedan senior-to-be put up at the Cadet Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week. DeJong began his run at 187 pounds last Friday by capturing the silver medal in Greco-Roman competition before dominating his way to the gold in freestyle on Sunday.

DeJong had a pair of pins and a technical fall before winning the gold medal with a 10-4 victory over Mexico's Pedro Lopez. In Greco competition, DeJong dropped an early match before recording a couple of pins to take silver.

"The fact that I was able to compete internationally and win a gold medal I haven't wrapped my head around that yet," he said. "My goal was to come back with two gold medals. I was just going in with that mentality of this is what I am going to do, and I am going to do whatever I have to to accomplish it."

The fourth-place state finisher in 2017 at 195 said he focused on opening up his offense in the freestyle competition and got to his takedowns early and often. He credited his high pace and tempo for wearing out several of his opponents.

DeJong continued to show his ability with his upper body strength in Greco as he refines his skills after considering himself a novice just a year ago in the style.

"I feel really comfortable in Greco and just being able to stand there and just go upper body with other kids," he said. "I feel really comfortable there."

DeJong, who qualified for the Pan-Am event by being the lone wrestler at his weight to place in both Greco and Freestyle at the UWW Cadet National Championships, was all business during his time abroad.

"The only sightseeing I got to do was on my bus ride to the center and to the hotel," he said. "I was down there for business."

DeJong is not taking much time to celebrate his international accomplishments as he flew from Argentina to Florida and then on to Minneapolis on Monday night. He then drove back home to Little Rock before getting a few hours of sleep and then getting right back on the road to Des Moines for Fargo camp.

DeJong is a returning double All-American at Fargo where he finished fourth in Greco-Roman a year ago and seventh in freestyle as a cadet.

"I am planning to just doing freestyle," said DeJong, who will compete at the junior level this year. "I want to improve on what I did last year. I am up an age level and the competition is going to be that much better. It is all about taking steps forward.

"Once you compete at this level and being able to do this well just raises my confidence. I am willing to take those risks and sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't."

DeJong said he has had a couple of colleges begin to express interest in him, but that number will likely grow greatly if he continues to perform at such a high level.

"After this past folkstyle season is when I finally decided that I was going to college to wrestle," he said. "I have had a few colleges contact be but not a lot yet."

It also means the Sibley-Ocheyedan wrestling team, which finished third in Class 1A at traditional state last winter, has a motivated and determined grappler ready to do big things in his final season.

"My goal is to be a state champ next year, to be undefeated," he said. "That is all I am going for."

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