Lilledahl of Wyoming Sem named Junior Hodge Trophy winner

Updated: May 31, 2024

By Tristan Warner

Luke Lilledahl had just won a Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) 4A state title as a freshman at 106 pounds for Christian Brothers College High School and head coach Cornell Robinson in the spring of 2021.

The young phenom dominated his opponents at the UWW Cadet Nationals later that spring and made a name for himself on the international scene after finishing as the UWW Cadet World silver medalist at 48 kg.

Despite falling just shy of his goal of a World title, there was no denying “Lightning” Luke was already well on his way to wrestling stardom, not only in the Show-Me State but on the national and international scene at his age level.

But, upon returning from Budapest, Lilledahl suddenly was faced with some unforeseen adversity that would force some difficult decisions to be made.

Robinson, who had been Lilledahl’s coach since he was 10 years old, made the painstaking yet thrilling decision to accept the head coaching position at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa., some 900 miles away.

According to Robinson, Lilledahl’s mind was already made up.

Cornell Robinson

“Right after he got back from Budapest, I called his dad and told him I got the job, and there was no hesitation,” the coach said. “He came right with me. That kid knew exactly what he wanted.”

Lilledahl himself acknowledged the decision weighed on him, but he knew what was best for him.

“It was really important for my growth as a wrestler and as a person to come to Sem,” he said. “It was tough to leave my family, but they have always supported me. It was nothing but a great experience and helped make me a better person and one of the best wrestlers in the country.”

In fact, Lilledahl has now been named the recipient of the 2024 WIN Magazine Junior Dan Hodge Trophy, given to the most outstanding high school wrestler in America each season. He is the first ever Missouri native to receive the award.

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