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  • #MondayMatness with Steve Krah: Solomey family has impact on Kankakee Valley wrestling fortunes

    By Y2CJ41
    Published in 


    The house is rockin’ and it is super-loud.

    Coaches, wrestlers and spectators are all yelling encouragement and instructions.

    Can athletes in the circle really pick out these messages above the din?

    Cole Solomey, a two-time IHSAA State Finals placer heading into his junior mat season in 2021-22 at Kankakee Valley High School in Wheatfield, says he can.

    “I can hear my dad and brother,” says Cole Solomey. “I hear them everyday.

    “I can hear exactly what they’re saying no matter how far away they are.”

    Mike Solomey (Class of 1992) and Luke Solomey (Class of 2017) both grappled for the Kougars.

    Mike Solomey is No. 2 on KV’s all-time win list at 117 (2005 graduate Dominic Willis is No. 1 at 119) and was a state qualifier at 130 pounds as a senior.

    Luke Solomey made it to the “ticket round” at the East Chicago Semistate as a 160-pound senior.

    Cole, the youngest of Mike and Becky Solomey’s three children behind Luke and Irelynn, was introduced to wrestling at age 4 with Caleb (son of Mike’s brother Shane Solomey, who was a 171-pounder during much of his KV mat career) coming to the sport a short time later.

    “When we grew up we didn’t have the opportunities that Cole and Caleb have,” says Mike Solomey.


    “(Cole) was good when he started out. He’s very self-motivated. Nobody has to talk him into going to practice. He does it on his own.

    “I’m hoping to see him higher on the (State Finals) podium as the next two years go by.”

    Luke is a KV volunteer assistant coach when his job of working for his dad’s roofing contractor business allows.

    “Weekends in the winter time are spent in the gym,” says Luke Solomey, who joined the staff during the COVID-19 pandemic last season because spectators were not allowed at most matches and he was able to help his brother.

    “I was in the corner for most of the year,” says Luke Solomey. “Cole can hear me when it’s very loud. It’s a different look in the corner — I can see something he can’t see (other wrestlers’ tendencies).”

    Luke, who was known for his cradles as a KV wrestler, gives Cole a chance to work on defending that move in practice.

    “One of Cole’s strengths is escapes,” says Luke Solomey. “If he’s on his game there’s nobody that can hold him down.”

    Luke has also noticed Cole’s growth spurt.

    “He’s grown up and out,” says Luke Solomey. “Puberty hit him pretty hard over the summer.”

    Two off-season events where Cole shined were the IndianaMat Hoosier Preseason Open (IHPO) in September and the USA Wrestling Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals in DesMoines, Iowa, in October. He was top eight at IHPO and sixth at Preseason Nationals after going out in the “blood round” in 2020.

    “I wrestled a lot more offensively at Preseason Nationals (in 2021) and competed really well,” says Cole.
    Third-year Kankakee Valley head coach Eric Kidwell first saw Cole on the mat when he and Brad Burvan state the Kougar Wrestling Club.

    “I don’t know where he gets his drive from,” says Kidwell. “He’s very competitive. He hates losing. He has improved every year.”

    “Caleb pushes Cole. He has that drive. He’s a tough kid.”

    Caleb placed seventh at Frosh-Soph State last year.

    Cole Solomey went 39-6 and placed seventh in the 2020 IHSAA State Finals at 120 and 27-7 and came in sixth at the 2021 state meet at 132. He finished third at the Crown Point Sectional, third at the Crown Point Regional and third at the East Chicago Semistate as a freshman then came in second, third and third at those stages as a sophomore.

    It was 66 at the start of the season, but don’t ask Cole how many career wins he has.

    “I only remember the losses,” says Cole Solomey. “I’ve always wanted to make a name for our school in wrestling.”

    The 2021-22 season opens with a bigger, stronger Cole Solomey competing at 138 with his cousin, classmate and training partner Caleb Solomey moving up from 126 to 132 after placing second at sectional and regional and losing in the second round at semistate as a sophomore.

    Both Solomey boys are 17.

    “Caleb and I drill pretty hard together everyday, especially when it comes to weight-cutting,” says Cole Solomey. “His strength is on his feet with his shots.

    “He hasn’t been able to get over the hump to get to the State Finals. I keep trying to push him as hard as possible every year.”

    Caleb lost out on mat time in middle school because of a dislocated elbow.

    Cole went up about an inch to 5-foot-9 and gained muscle in the weight room since last season. He says his “walking around” weight in 2020-21 was about 145 and now its around 150.

    “Through lifting I gained more mass,” says Cole Solomey. “I’ve gotten a whole lot stronger (with my power, arms and grip) the last couple of years.”

    Working out in the off-season with Chris Fleeger at Midwest Regional Training Center in New Carlisle in off-season as well as with Pete Petroff at Region Wrestling Academy in Schererville, Cole has upped his hand-fighting game.

    “It creates larger shot opportunities and opens up my opponent a whole lot more,” says Cole Solomey.


    “My mentality has also improved.

    “I know how much more I have to give. You don’t know much more you have to give until you have to give it.”

    Cole played baseball until middle school and football through eighth grade then decided to focus on wrestling.

    “The off-season is about getting better and I saw other kids training year-round and passing me up,” says Cole Solomey. “Is there such a thing as too much mat time. In my perspective — no.

    “The more time you’re spending on the mat those are more situations you would not be in if you’re sitting at home.

    “Drilling is definitely a huge part of wrestling. Some practices where you don’t go 100 percent is where you learn (a move). Then you go into situational wrestling and get a real feel for it.”

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