Back to work: Roland-Story wrestlers Blume, Eslick have high expectations for 2021-2022 season

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Christian Eslick and Kade Blume hope to have big seasons on the wrestling mat for Roland-Story in 2021-2022. Blume is a defending Class 2A state champion at 106 pounds and Eslick placed eighth at 145 last season.

Kade Blume is a defending state champion. Christian Eslick earned a spot on the podium a year ago.

But neither Roland-Story wrestler will be resting on their laurels heading into the 2021-2022 season.

“They both worked really hard in the offseason doing different things to make themselves better,” Roland-Story head coach Leland Schwartz said. “They both have really stepped up at the beginning of this season in terms of leadership and work ethic.” 

Blume claimed a Class 2A state championship at 106 pounds last year after winning a 6-4 battle with Williamsburg’s Gavin Jensen.

“It was awesome,” Eslick said. “Kade’s a great example in the room. He shows everybody the way they should be working and what they can achieve if they work the way he does.” 

Blume finished his freshman year with a 44-1 record and became Roland-Story's first state champoinship since 1996.

Kade Blume ended the 2021 state wrestling tournament as Roland-Story's first state champion since 1996.

“He doesn’t get a big head about it, and he doesn’t let anything phase him,” Schwartz said. “He has exactly the right mindset.” 

That mindset has enabled Blume to push aside last year's state title and focus on what's in front of him this winter.

“It doesn’t really mean anything right now,” Blume said. “I’ve just got to go get another one.” 

Blume has displayed a deep passion for wrestling ever since second grade. This past offseason he'd make two or three trips to Jefferson a week to practice under T.J. Sebolt at Sebolt Wrestling Academy.

He also competed at the USA Wrestling Junior and 16U Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota last July, where he posted a 4-2 record.

“I worked on standups and staying in good position,” Blume siad. “I’ve gotten better on both bottom and top. I feel great."

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When high school practices officially got underway this month Blume was excited to get back together with teammates Colin Hansen and Logan Powers. Hansen is a senior that won 14 matches at 285 last year and Powers is Blume's classmate and coming off a 27-8 freshman season at 120.

He was also happy to get back in the room with Eslick.

Despite a near-40 pound difference in size, Blume has frequently sparred with Eslick during practices.  

“He’s smart about it,” Blume said of wrestling Eslick. “It makes you work harder and that makes you better.”  

Eslick is no slouch himself. After going 36-4 as a freshman, he finished 36-5 at 145 last year and placed eighth at state.

“I missed wrestling a lot,” Eslick said. “I want to make some memories and win some matches.” 

Like Blume, Eslick put in a lot of time over the summer.

“He spent a lot of time studying what he should be putting in his body and doing the right lifts to help make himself stronger,” Schwartz said. “He’s just better overall physically.” 

He also diversified his skillset on the mat.

“Typically, I’d just take somebody down and let them up and go right back into a tie-up,” Eslick said. “Now I’m trying to work on my riding and finishing periods on top.” 

Roland-Story's Christian Eslick wants to expand from being dominant on his feet to being able control wrestlers on the mat in 2021-2022.

Blume said he expects to continue wrestling at 106 and Eslick will either remain at 145 or go up to 152. Entering the the season IAwrestle has Blume rated No. 1 at 106 and Eslick No. 5 at 152.

Both wrestlers want to help Roland-Story continue to grow as a team. The Norsemen finished last year with a 15-13 record in dual meets, placed third at the Heart of Iowa Conference meet and sent four wrestlers to districts.

“Both of them have been voted as captains,” Schwartz said. “The team recognizes what they bring to the table and they look for those guys to be leaders.” 

Individually, Blume is clearly going for his second state championship. Eslick said he also wants a championship, but will settle for placing in the top three at state.

“Both of those guys can achieve those goals,” Schwartz said. “It just takes a little bit of luck and they need to keep working hard to give themselves a chance.”