The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 6, 2013

East seeks improvement

MANKATO — Keanu Rodriguez has been named a captain for the 2013-14 Mankato East wrestling team and it's a role he has chosen to embrace.

The senior 160-pounder wants to lead by example and wants to help the team's young, up-and-coming wrestlers learn as much as he can. If, by doing that, he can make the team better, then he will view his final season as a success.

"I enjoy helping the younger guys because I was there once myself," Rodriguez said. "We're a pretty young team so if I can show the underclassmen the right way to do things and help them out when they ask questions, that's a good thing."

East head coach Jon Dierks said Rodriguez's work ethic alone is a great example for the younger wrestlers.

"He's a hard worker and the other kids see that," the coach said. "He's been in our program for six years and the guys watch him and follow his lead.

"He doesn't get all vocal and in your face. He's more of a quiet leader."

While Rodriguez is mainly a team-oriented guy, that doesn't mean he's without any personal goals.

Rodriguez made a huge jump on varsity last season, going from three wins as a sophomore to 17 wins as a junior. Now he wants to take the next step.

"I'd like to get to 20 wins," he said. "It would be great to qualify for state but we're in a pretty tough section so it will be challenge. That's something that's always good to shoot for."

Rodriguez competes in only one sport at East and, the fact that he chose wrestling, is not surprising. He father, Juan, wrestled at Gaylord High School and, his little brother Wyatt is involved in the elementary program.

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