Kris Klapprodt was back on familiar wrestling mats in an unfamiliar role at Rapid City Stevens on Monday.
Klapprodt, a redshirt freshman with the University of Iowa wrestling team, was one of three Hawkeyes on the mat leading the first of a two-day camp put on by the Westside Wrestling Club.
“It is a little different but I really enjoy it,” he said. “For me, it is a great opportunity to meet the younger kids and talk to them about Iowa wrestling. I want to keep the tradition strong here at Stevens. It is awesome to see all the kids out here working hard.”
Klapprodt was joined by Hawkeye teammates Nick Moore and Josh Dwieza for the camp with 20 to 30 campers.
Klapprodt, a three-time South Dakota Class A state champion for the Raiders, posted a 15-4 record at 174 pounds while wrestling unattached last season. Like many freshmen, his first season in a college wrestling room brought plenty of changes, challenges and improvements.
“It was amazing and eye-opening,” Klapprodt said of his first year in the Hawkeye wrestling room. “Training at that level for a year-long process and what it takes to get there is amazing. It was a big transition … but I feel I transitioned well and feel good about this next year coming up.”
Klapprodt, who suffered a knee injury early last season but reports no ill effects now, has had a busy summer attending camps, tournaments and helping the Iowa program conduct camps in an effort to continue to improve.
“For me, I had to get used to the training, and when you are at Iowa you are always pushing to do more and wanting to do more,” he said. “Everyone feeds off of each other and if someone is doing more sets on bench or more curls, you go over there and do the same thing. You want to beat him.”
The competitive nature in the wrestling room and on the mat is one of the major reasons Klapprodt chose to attend Iowa, and he enjoys it even more now that he is immersed in it himself. Not only does he train with a current national champion in Matt McDonough and runner-up Derek St. John, but former Hawkeyes like Brent Metcalf and Rapid City Stevens alum Randy Lewis are also in the room.
“They push you every day, and you push yourself to do exactly what they are doing,” he said. “(Lewis) comes in and watches us, works out and I had a chance to talk to him.”
Much of his time during the first year focused on becoming more fluid in his movement on the mat and exploding into his shots. He also had to learn to be a more effective wrestling from the bottom position – something he rarely encountered his final few seasons in high school.
“College is even more high intensity than high school, and you only get seconds to set a guy up and take a shot,” he said. “I know I have a long way to go, but I felt like I made huge strides this last season.”
He is still debating whether he will wrestle at 174 or 184 pounds next season, but said he was “very optimistic about the upcoming season.”
Klapprodt also did well making the transition in the classroom, where he is currently majoring in business and had a 3.3 grade-point average as a freshman. Managing his time and sticking to priorities were key to having success in both the classroom and wrestling room.
Now, he is just focused on continuing to improve, which was exactly what he was doing for an eager group of wrestlers who now look up to him.