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Grieving Vodicka wins State Championship

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:38 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:54 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Dylan Vodicka had a special relationship with his father.

“We talked about wrestling all of the time,” Vodicka said. The two bonded over wrestling, which Dylan learned at a young age. Jim Vodicka coached Dylan through 8th grade and was his number 1 fan.

In mid-November, as Dylan was preparing for his high school senior season, Jim became ill. He tested positive for COVID-19, which quickly attacked his respiratory system. On November 29th, Jim died at 54 years old.

“He was the kind of guy who would never stay down for more than one afternoon if he felt bad,” Dylan said. “It all just happened so fast.”

Dylan grieved the loss of his father while chasing a state championship. He competed in the Columbus Lakeview Invite on the same day as Jim’s funeral. Dylan says his father would’ve wanted him to wrestle, so he arrived late to the tournament and won his weight division.

Dylan says he found comfort in the David City wrestling room. His teammates and coaches were a strong support system, helping him personally and on the mat.

“One thing this sport teaches is perseverence,” David City head coach Tahner Thiem said. “When you take a loss, you have to get back up and keep going. That’s what I saw out of Dylan. Dylan took a significant loss in his life and (was) immediately ready to go again.”

Vodicka went 54-0 this season while becoming a back-to-back state champion. Moments after claiming the Class C’s 182-pound title, he dropped to a knee, made the sign of the cross, and pointed to the sky.

“Right after it all happened, I’m going to give everything I have to make him proud,” Vodicka said.

Vodicka won 185 matches over his high school career, which is a David City school record.

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