ELIDA – Two years ago, Wapakoneta’s Evan Kaeck was one of the top-ranked Division II wrestlers in the state.
As a sophomore, Kaeck went to the state wrestling tournament at Ohio State to compete in the 220-pound weight class, with high hopes of bringing home a state title.
However, a shoulder injury during the state tournament, forced Kaeck to void his final two matches, which still earned him a very respectable sixth-place finish.
Following the 2018 football season, Kaeck had surgery done on his shoulder, which sidelined him for the 2018-19 wrestling campaign. Kaeck is a two-way standout in football.
Now, Kaeck is back and ready to make another run to Columbus.
At Thursday’s Western Buckeye League dual match with Elida, Kaeck notched a win and helped lead Wapakoneta to a 59-24 victory against the Bulldogs.
Wapakoneta came into Thursday’s matchup with Elida with a perfect 5-0 Western Buckeye League dual record. Elida entered Thursday’s match with a 2-3 WBL dual mark. As of Thursday, Celina also had a 5-0 WBL record.
Thursday, Kaeck pinned Tarez Russell late in the second period in the 220-pound weight class.
Kaeck, who is 18-3 this season (one loss by medical default) said he will not take any opponent for granted.
“I just want to take it one match at a time. First, I want to win a league title again. … Then, compete at sectionals, districts and state,” Kaeck said.
Kaeck feels that missing last season is not going to be an issue for him.
“I’ve wrestled since I was like five years old. So, it’s nothing new to me,” he said with a smile.
Longtime Wapakoneta wrestling coach Jason Rostorfer is pleased at how Kaeck is performing. However, Kaeck suffered a shot to the chin at a recent tournament, which required several stitches. Thursday night, he taped up his chin and went to battle.
“It was nice seeing Evan Kaeck getting a match in after this past weekend,” Rostorfer said. “Having him in the lineup always helps.
“Right now, we’re just trying to be smart with him, and just make sure he’s healthy for the end of the year. Probably, right now – except for his chin – this is
about as healthy as he has been. He’s just a physical wrestler. He’s very smart, and he doesn’t put himself in a bad position.”
Rostorfer said he is being somewhat cautious with Kaeck.
“He sat out for a couple weeks, just for precautionary purposes. So, right now, he’s trying to get his legs back under him. He’s hitting the conditioning circuit pretty hard right now,” Rostorfer said.
“He has a lot of experience under his belt. Missing last year doesn’t seem to have slowed him down a lot. If nothing else, he spent the entire season he was off lifting weights; and his legs are pretty strong. … They’re like tree trunks.”
Wapakoneta wrestling is rich in tradition. The Redskins have notched a total of 18 WBL team crowns in school history – second only to Defiance (20).
In Thursday’s dual at Elida, Wapakoneta recorded six pins.
“We made some mistakes, but I thought we wrestled pretty well, overall,” Rostorfer said about Thursday’s win. “Right now, we are really, really young. We have one senior wrestling and the rest are underclassmen. But they’re going out, getting varsity matches and getting wins. That’s what it’s all about.
“The lumps they took earlier in the year, seem to be paying off right now. At least we are trending upward, in the right direction.”
Added Kaeck, “Hopefully, we can get all of our injured guys back, shortly. Then, we can have a full team for Celina (dual). Then, hopefully, we can win a league title, and keep going from there.”
Wapakoneta junior Colin Mollett, a state-qualifier last season, pinned Dylan Maus in the 106-pound bout Thursday night.
Mellott is feeling pretty positive about this year’s squad.
“The underclassmen have definitely stepped up, since the beginning of the year – which helps with all of the senior injuries that we’ve experience over the last month,” Mollett said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.