Now, Chappel is in Philadelphia to cheer on his former pupil at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship. After claiming the Big 12 tournament title in the 125-pound division, sophomore Klingsheim advanced to the national title tournament, held this weekend. Chappel, along with an assistant coach, made the cross-country trek to watch Klingsheim take on the best of the best.
“We keep in touch, and just to be able to have them there, it’s going to be pretty cool,” Klingsheim said. “Wrestling at this level has definitely been interesting.”
The transition from Liberty to Lincoln was tough on Klingsheim, who didn’t know how to lose. Chappel said that calming him down after a rare loss proved quite the feat, but once the wrestler gained control of his emotions, he was unstoppable. As a Lion, Klingsheim went to the state tournament all four years, taking home the title twice. He won the Bay Valley Athletic League title four times and North Coast Section twice.
However, upon enrolling at Nebraska, he discovered that college teams are loaded with high school state champions. No longer the biggest fish in the pond, he struggled at first. In his freshman year, Klingsheim went 14-14 overall and 9-11 in dual matches. Admirable numbers, but not on his terms.
“He always worked hard and hated to lose,” Chappel said. “There’s a learning curve and he had worked hard to get where he was at. He just had to kind of adapt to this level.”
Klingsheim wasn’t sure if he was cut out for that next level, something of which Chappel assured him. So Klingsheim kept doing what earned him so much success. Knowing that the competition was unlike anything he faced in high school, he invested the sweat equity needed to be a big-time college wrestler – his childhood goal.
“Everybody’s tough in college,” Klingsheim said. “You don’t have those first-round, second-round easy matches. … Every match, I’ve got to be ready to wrestle. It’s been a tough transition getting used to it.”
Klingsheim said that things didn’t really line up for him until the Big 12 tournament. Seeded fourth in the 125-pound bracket, Klingsheim defeated No. 5 Brandon Jones from Iowa State. Next, he toppled top-seeded Jon Morrison from Oklahoma State. In the final round, Klingsheim earned a decision over No. 2 seed Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma.
Chappel hopes Klingsheim earns enough success at this tournament to keep him motivated for the next two years.
“I’m looking forward to just wrestling tough,” Klingsheim said. “I’m not thinking about winning or losing or who I’m wrestling. … I want to go compete hard and see where it takes me.”