SMS student makes history on the mat
April 12, 2009
As the Summit Middle School wrestling season was winding down, seventh-grader Robert Koegel wasn’t quite ready to call it quits for the year. In only his third season in the sport, Koegel wanted one more chance to hit the mats, he wanted the chance to compete in the season-ending regional meet.
“The season was already over, and we were done as a team,” SMS head coach P.J. Keith recalled. “And he just came to me and said that he wanted to go to (regionals). I was just excited to have him want to.”
As it turned out, Koegel would put in a couple extra weeks of work. He finished second in his 77-pound weight class and advanced to last weekend’s state tournament. It was the first time ever that a Summit kid accomplished the feat, although the competition’s only been held the past two seasons.
“I didn’t expect it,” Koegel said of advancing. “I was excited that I qualified, but I kind of went into it as a learning experience.”
Well, the one thing Koegel learned quickly was that he could certainly compete with the best in his class. He won his first two matches of regionals before narrowly
losing in the finals.
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“He really did great,” Keith said. “The kid he lost to in the finals wound up winning the entire state championship, so it was a good loss.”
In a 32-person field at the state championships, Koegel went 1-2 in his matches, one of his losses coming in overtime. Considering that Koegel was one of the younger competitors in his class, Keith said, it was a very good showing.
“Just for him to want to compete at that level was a privilege for me,” the coach said. “He was the one that wanted to do it, and he did a great job.”
“It’s very, very exciting,” Koegel’s father Jim said. “Neither his mother nor I were big athletes in high school or middle school, so we’re very proud.”
Though making history is nice, Koegel isn’t satisfied with his season. Really, he’s not even satisfied with ending his season.
On Friday, when interviewed for this story, Koegel was back on the mats with Keith working on technique.
“He’s got the bug,” Keith, a 1997 Summit High grad, said, noting that he got hooked on the sport when he was around the same age as Koegel. ” … It’s great to have a kid that’s the same way.”
Koegel said he first started wrestling to get a good work out. Now, it’s his passion.
“I want to keep getting better and don’t want to stand still in my wrestling ability,” he said of his reasons for being in the wrestling room in the offseason. ” … once I got into (wrestling), it’s become a lot more important to me.”
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