State wrestling B and C first round

Hastings' Connor Laux (top) controls Gothenberg's Noah Larson in a Class B 132-pound match during last year's opening round of the state tournament in Omaha.

FRANCIS GARDLER, JOURNAL STAR FILE PHOTO

Hastings High School has never had a wrestler win three state titles. Connor Laux is trying to change that, as the two-time champ takes center stage his senior year in a chase with history.

“It’s been an awesome ride. It’s been like a dream,” Laux said.

Wrestling success is not something new for the Laux family, however.

Laux’s brother Nolan also brought home two state titles for the Tigers during high school, and now helps Hastings head coach Austin Weidner on the Tigers' staff.

“Most of my success has been from him,” Laux, a 138-pounder, said about his older brother. “He knows so much about wrestling it’s ridiculous, honestly.”

Wrestling wasn’t what first caught Weidner’s eye when he saw Laux competing. It was midget football.

“He was always so small, but he was fast, and he was a very, very good football player,” Weidner said, “He was so fast, and he would hit people so hard. You didn’t know that a little kid could really tackle so hard.”

So with all the hype around Laux headed into his senior year of wrestling, Weidner fields calls, messages and emails from college coaches quite a bit.

The response he gives, however, is a bit out of the ordinary.

“I always hate to break the news to them,” Weidner said, “that he is going to play baseball.”

That’s right. Laux will follow in his dad’s footsteps and play what his coach calls “his true passion” at Nebraska-Kearney.

“I’ve been wrestling my whole life, and I believe that you love the sport and it doesn’t always love you back,” Laux said. “It has taken a toll on my body over the years. Then the love starts fading away.”

Still, Laux’s 131 career wins, headed into this weekend, is a pretty hefty number no matter which way you look at it.

That 131 mark is second in school history, to his brother Nolan's 167 wins.

The fact that Laux won't be taking his wrestling talents to the college level does not put a halt to the senior's leadership in the wrestling room, his coach said.

“Obviously, these younger kids coming into practice look up to him,” Weidner said. “But he knows he has kids watching him and people watching him. He’s just such a great kid and leader, we are lucky to have him at all times.”

So no matter how far this season takes Laux, whether it be a school-record third state title or a Hastings record for career wins, he'll trade his singlet and headgear next year for a pair of cleats and a glove.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or rmiller2@journalstar.com.

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