February 12th, 2015

Frankrone out to pin down another state title

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Frankrone out to pin down another state title
Trinity junior Tyler Frankrone (facing camera) is hoping to win his second straight wrestling state title / photo by Conor Revell

Tyler Frankrone didn’t even know if he was going to wrestle as a sophomore at Trinity until just days before the first practice. But he stuck with the sport and won the 182-pound weight class at the state tournament last February.

Frankrone’s journey toward a second straight state championship starts with this weekend’s regional tournament.  

If he comes away with another state title, he’ll be a step closer to doing something only one other Trinity wrestler has done: win three straight state crowns.

“He’s definitely in the top five of the guys I have ever coached,” Trinity head coach Eddie Rudolph said. “He’s got this year and next year. I didn’t coach John Fahy, but I knew John because he was in our middle school program before I stepped out. I’m sure John would be No. 1. But if Tyler wins it this year and next year, then he has done something nobody else at Trinity has ever done except for John.”

Rudolph was Trinity’s head coach from 1996-2008 but stepped down when he became the father of two daughters. He took the program back over last year.

Wrestling hasn’t always been a part of Frankrone’s life. Growing up, he played football until he branched out on his football coach’s advice.

 “My football coach wanted me to start wrestling,” Frankrone said. “I think I was 8 years old. His son wrestled at Fern Creek. I did a tackle and he told me that my tackles were more like wrestling moves. That’s when he told me I should try wrestling because I was strong for my age. My Dad (Mike) looked wrestling up on the computer and River City Youth Wrestling was the first site that came up.”

And he had early success on the mats, winning two middle school state titles. Ironically, the River City program is run by the St. Xavier wrestling coaching staff.

“I like the reward wrestling gives you,” Frankrone said. “I think it makes you a better person. A lot of times when you wrestle you want to quit. It’s one of the hardest sports, but you keep fighting through it and that makes you a better person.”

Frankrone then enrolled at Trinity, which his father attended as a freshman before transferring. His dad even had a class taught by Rudolph.

“He’s a quiet kid,” Rudolph said. “He doesn’t talk a lot. I tried to get stuff out of him, but coming from St. X (the Tigers’ coaching staff at River City) to here he was kind of shut down because he didn’t know what to expect.”

Frankrone never stepped onto a mat his freshman season after learning that he had two stress fractures in his spine.

Richard Brown was the head coach at the time but resigned just days before Frankrone’s sophomore season. Rudolph took the reins of the program again.

“The 15th (Oct. 15, the first day of practice) was on a Tuesday and on Monday I had him in our advising class,” Rudolph said. “I asked if he was going to go out for wrestling. He said ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘Well you better show up tomorrow because that’s when we have wrestling practice.’ ”

Sure enough, Frankrone ventured up to the second floor of the Marshall Center, where the wrestling room is located. But he didn’t know Rudolph was the coach.

“He showed up,” Rudolph said. “I walked in. A lot of the kids knew that I was coming back, but most of them hadn’t told anybody. When I got up there, he looked at me and smiled, ‘You’re the coach?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m the coach again,’ and a bunch of kids started screaming and hollering. It was just cool because he said he didn’t know if he was going to wrestle or not and I didn’t want to put pressure on him to wrestle. But then when he saw me I think he was relieved to see that I was going to be the coach again.”

And Frankrone has enjoyed wrestling for Rudolph.

“He’s one of the most laidback coaches,” Frankrone said. “He’s probably my favorite coach that I have ever had. I’ve had some great coaches. Coach (Jim) Kraeszig (St. X head coach) was awesome. But Coach Rudolph is laidback but is serious when he needs to be. He jokes a lot and makes you feel like that he relates to you, unlike some coaches that are serious all the time.”

Frankrone also credits his father for making him stick with the sport. It paid off as he enjoyed a wealth of success as a sophomore.

“There was a point where I thought I wasn’t going to wrestle and was just going to play football,” he said. “But my Dad made me realize that all the hard work from middle school to then was just going to go to waste.”  

A significant obstacle hit the young wrestler just days before the state championships. Frankrone was feeling the effects of bronchitis but didn’t realize what it was until after the tournament.

“It was tough,” Frankrone said. “I had to keep the faith that I could win and that I could push through it. It was one of the hardest tournaments that I have wrestled in because of how bad I felt. But I was still just good enough to win.”

It was a long Friday and Saturday for him. Frankrone survived day one, beating North Oldham’s Josh Hill and Newport’s Gage Jones in the first two rounds.

Then Rudolph was left with the challenge of getting him ready for another long day. If Frankrone were to win the championship, he would have to win three matches Saturday.

“Me and him sat down,” Rudolph said. “I told him, ‘Tyler, can you imagine if you win this with a twisted ankle, bronchitis and then with that sleep disorder you have and you still win State with all three of those things? That’s going to be awesome.’ And then, I’ll be darned that he goes out and does it.”

Frankrone beat Fern Creek’s Kohl Dodd in the quarterfinals and Woodford County’s Wyatt Courtney in the semifinals.

The highlight of the day came when Frankrone won by major decision over Elisiah Matthews of Campbell County in the title match and stood atop the podium.

Now Frankrone is in a position to possibly make it two titles in a row when the state championships begin a week from Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“He has so much athletic ability,” Rudolph said. “He’s a very good student, too. He’s probably just the hardest worker I have had in years. He’s so gifted in the athletic standpoint — he’s bigger, faster and stronger. You hear that a lot, but Tyler really is bigger, faster and stronger than most.”  

But he must get there first. The Fourth Region Tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at Manual. St. X and Trinity are the favorites, but the Tigers just took a hit when defending 160-pound champion Dominic Lampe was suspended due to a violation of team rules.


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