CR wrestler Wisniewski cherishes breakthrough, eyes states next

CAMDEN — Pat Wisniewski has fought through injuries and the grind of four years of high school wrestling.

Now the Caesar Rodney High senior is pushing all of his chips to the center of the table as the clock ticks down on his high school career.

Fresh off his first conference title, Wisniewski wants to go out on top as the season ends with the individual state championship meet, hosted at Cape Henlopen High Friday and Saturday.

“This could be my last week of wrestling ever,” Wisniewski said. “I’m pumped up and want to win it.”

Wisniewski is seeded second at the state tournament in the 138-pound bracket.

He celebrated a breakthrough last Saturday in the finals of the Henlopen Conference individual tournament. Wisniewski was seeded second at conferences too but earned his first title with a 4-3 decision in the championship match.

The victory came at the end of the road of some close calls throughout his time at Caesar Rodney.

Wisniewski reached the conference finals as a sophomore before suffering an injury to finish in second. He then was fourth in his weight class as a junior.

It wasn’t until his senior year that Wisniewski saw his hand raised as a conference winner.

“It’s really nice when you see kids who put their blood, sweat and tears into something like Patrick has for the last four years get something,” said CR coach Dan Rigby. “Two years ago, he was hurt in the finals. A year ago, he came up short. He’s done all the right things and it’s great to see him finally get his honors.”

Wisniewski said he thought a lot about the journey he took to get to this point last Saturday.

“Now that it’s my last year I take a moment to look at it, be thankful for what I have and have fun with it,” he said. “I had injuries, lost in the finals and finally got one. It’s great to finally get there.”

Fellow Caesar Rodney senior Jackson Dean, who won the 152-pound Henlopen Conference championship on Saturday for his fourth conference title, joked he was almost more concerned with following Wisniewski’s title bout than preparing for his own.

“I was actually thinking that it sucks being nervous for two matches with his match first then my match,” Dean said. “It’s really nice to see him come out on top and have his first breakthrough. Hopefully he can have his second this weekend.”

Wisniewski has wrestled his way to a 28-11 record for his senior season.

While his biggest individual honors did not come until last weekend, Rigby said Wisniewski has been one of the most important wrestlers on the Riders the last several seasons.

He’s heavily relied on during dual meets to earn maximum points in his matches. Wisniewski was a sophomore when Caesar Rodney won the Division I dual meet state title two years ago and again helped lead the Riders back to the finals as a junior where they finished as the runner ups.

With such a young team this season, Rigby was glad he had a senior like Wisniewski for the underclassmen to watch.

“His work-ethic is unmatched,” Rigby said. “He’s a worker nonstop in the room. It’s nice to have a leader by example like that.”

“He’s certainly someone we’ll miss,” Rigby added. “He scores a lot of points and has great leadership. He’s just a guy who is a staple of the program.”