Standards have always been high for the Hamilton wrestling program.

As 2015 HHS graduate and now head coach, Trenton Holyfield puts it, "This is Hamilton wrestling, you ask almost anybody in surrounding schools and we're just known for being pretty tough."

Long-time head wrestling coach Gregg Stoel helped guide the Hawkeyes to new heights during his tenure, both as a team and individually. However, Stoel will tell you it wasn't without tough kids like Andy Cook, who won a state championship in 2002.

It's hard to believe Hamilton went two decades without another individual champion. That is, until Andy's nephew Malachi Kapenga rose to the occasion and got the job done as a sophomore in the 113-pound weight class back in March. Fast forward nine months later to today and Malachi is back in the Stoel Wrestling Room working hard to continue his legacy with another championship.

"It was an emotional thing for Andy," Holyfield added. "That they're related and they get to share that accomplishment. It couldn't have happened to a better kid, either."

While Kapenga would love to lead the Hawkeyes to the program's first regional team title since 2007, he's also preparing himself individually to defend his trophy.

"It would mean I'm proving to myself that I can do it again," Kapenga said. "Last year could have been a fluke so this year, if I win it again, I'm proving it to myself but the target is on my back, I have to push that out of the way and focus on getting better."

Even after a monster sophomore season going into districts, Kapenga flew under the radar a bit. This year, he's preparing for everyone's best shot.

"This year, everyone will know who he is but I still think he's going to make some people upset," Holyfield chuckled.