Kroening

“King of the Hill” State Champion Dillon Kroening.

GLADWIN – Dillon is one of those individuals that come around once in a generation. Whether it is on the football or baseball field, the wrestling mat or leading cheers at a basketball game, Dillon has been a leader. Even with Gladwin’s long tradition of athletic excellence very few have accomplished what Dillon has accomplished. He is one of the best wrestlers to come out of Gladwin. He always wanted to wrestle against the best other teams had to offer. Twenty-two of his fifty-two wins this year were against wrestlers that qualified for the state finals. His 186 career wins puts him in second place in the Gladwin record book. He holds the record for season and career takedowns and recorded 101 pins.

Dillon was a three-time conference champion and state qualifier. He placed second in the state as a junior before winning the title this year to become the third state champion in Gladwin history. Going into his junior year Dillon trained relentlessly to be ready for his second trip to the finals. He faced Owen Gillford for the state championship that year. Kroening controlled the match early and was in good position going into the second period. We chose the down position because of his ability to escape. A missed head snatch proved costly as Gillford answered and won the match. In less then a second the tide turned.

It was a heartfelt loss and we needed time to decompress and collect ourselves. After a time Dillon realized that even though he thought he was the better wrestler he knew that Gullford won the day. He was devastated, but still thought about the other guy and went to congratulate him. That’s the way he is.

All season Dillon had a single goal, for the team to get better every match. He would constantly ask, “What do we have to do to get better?” That mindset seemed to change everything. He took time to work with everyone on the team. He made it feel like a family, everyone knew that they were welcome and safe. He talked about winning a state title, but also included Randy, Hunter and Kyle in the conversation. He wanted them all to chase it too.

One of my favorite memories of all time comes from this season.  We were getting ready to take on a good Ogemaw Heights team in the district finals. Dillon took Kyle Campbell aside to get his confidence back. He had just lost a tough match and Dillon knew that we would need him to take the district. . He said, “what is done is done. We focus on what we can control. We control the next match. You have Zea (a two time state medalist). You have put in the work. You are better than before and you are going to win because I believe in you.” Campbell went out with the pressure and got the win. With it we went on to win a district title, which would not have been possible otherwise.

Dillon is a great athlete, but more importantly he truly cares for the Gladwin programs and all involved. This is what made him worthy of this prestigious award.

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