Central Cass athlete joining small company while competing in two sportsCasselton, ND (WDAY TV) - There's nothing unique about two sport athletes in high school, but when those two sports are in the same season? That's a rarity.
Casselton, ND (WDAY TV) - There's nothing unique about two sport athletes in high school, but when those two sports are in the same season? That's a rarity.
Central Cass's Connor Rieniets is doing something few have in North Dakota history.
Travis Lemar, Central Cass Wrestling Coach: “I coached Connor in football and he told me at practice one day, ‘I’d like to wrestle this season.’ I thought he was joking.”
Mike Kegley, Central Cass Boys Basketball Coach: “When he first told me he was thinking about wrestling, I thought, with your frame? Yes! I wouldn't discourage him from doing that.”
Connor Rieniets, Central Cass Junior: “I'd done golf and baseball in the spring. I figured I'd try basketball and wrestling.”
Never mind that Rieniets hadn't wrestled since 6th grade or that he was going to be the starting center on the basketball team. But with the blessing of both his coaches, Rieniets began the "rarest" of doubles. In fact, the only North Dakotan anyone can remember who wrestled and played hoops at the same time was Bismarck's Jordan Engelhardt in 2003.
Kegley: “Not every athlete can do what he does. It's a pat on his back to go through two seasons and compete physically.”
Lemar: “We didn't know what to expect. We knew he'd help us. We didn't know to what extent.”
Wrestling as the Squirrels’ 220 pounder, Rieniets posted a .500 record this season, helping Central Cass qualify for state with a 15-3 dual record.
Lemar: “His amount of improvement has been amazing. When he's on the mat, he gives us a different element. Guys we were getting pinned by, he's pinning.”
Doing both hoops and wrestling, Rieniets quickly dropped 40 pounds, to get to 203.
Rieniets: “Feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.”
Now that wrestling season has just wrapped, Rieniets can focus solely on basketball, where he averages 10 points and a team high 9 boards as the starting center for the 16-6 Squirrels.
Kegley: “He's very important to our team, his ability to play inside as an undersized 5-11 post and be effective versus bigger kids.”
Rieniets is only a junior, so he could attempt the rare "double" again next year.
Rieniets: “I'm gonna think about it over the summer. It's been a grueling year for me and my parents, for getting me from place to place.”
Either way, Rieniets is in some exclusive company in state history.