Brandywine’s Hertsal a ‘diamond in the rough’

Published 9:55 am Friday, January 29, 2016

Kristian Hertsal’s introduction to wrestling took place three years ago against a friendly opponent.

“My stepfather (Alex Liska) got me into it,” said Hertsal. “We wrestled each other at home and I asked my stepfather if there was a sport like this. He told me ‘yeah.’ I went to school the next day and I found out wrestling was a sport and I joined the Brandywine wrestling team my sophomore year.

“It’s a tough sport and Iike the competition. The other sports don’t meet those expectations.”

Brandywine wrestling coach Rex Pomranka has seen consistent growth from Hertsal, who wrestled on the varsity squad at 145 pounds as a sophomore and junior, but is at 152 pounds this year.

“He’s coming along,” Pomranka said. “He’s been a diamond in the rough. We just need him to put it all together and he’s starting to do that.

“He’s down at a weight class where he can be physical. We just have to keep drilling the basics into him.

“Kristian has been a nice surprise. I think he has about 30 wins for the season with some big wins in there.”

On Wednesday, Hertsal added two more impressive wins to his senior record. He beat Bronson’s Gavin Alger, 19-3, and he pinned Lawrence’s John Wydick in 1:26.

“I take a lot from what I did (Wednesday),” Hertsal said. “The kid from Bronson is seeded ahead of me so it was a big win for me.”

Hertsal’s performance against Bronson came against a program ranked seventh in the state in Division 4. The Vikings defeated the Bobcats, 53-23. Hertsal was one of many standouts for Brandywine in a 66-12 win over Lawrence.

Playing football prepared Hertsal for the 152-pound weight class. He put on weight while playing football.

“It’s not really been a big adjustment,” Hertsal about going from 145 to 152 pounds. “Being at 145 is harder because those wrestlers are quicker and more agile. At 152, there’s more strength and conditioning involved.”

Wrestling at a comfortable weight, Hertsal is hoping to make a deep run in the state tournament. The past two years he hasn’t advanced past the individual district tournament.

“I’m looking to make it out of districts and regionals,” Hertsal said. “To do that it’s going to take a lot of motivation and a lot of practice.”

Pomranka would love to see his hard work with Hertsal pay off.

“He’s raw, but we’ve been pleased with him,” Pomranka said. “I wish we could have him for another year.

“It’s been a fun trip with him.”