Another one of my favorite thinsg about doing these articles is getting back in touch with some of my old wrestling acquaintances that I haven’t heard from in 15+ years. Kozik is one of these guys. It’s cool to touch base with this dude because I always liked him…despite the fact that every time I wrestle him, he gave me the worst 3rd periods of my life. I met Garrett in 7th grade at the Belle Plaine Freestyle Wrestling Tournament. This was my first ever freestyle tournament. I had like 10 guys in my bracket and made the finals smoothly. Pinned or teched everyone to get to the finals. I was starting to think I was some sort of natural at this “Freestyle thing.” Welp, I was wrong and Kozik was the guy who taught me that lesson.
Kozik was the guy I had to wrestle in the finals of that tournament. As you can all imagine, I was “chatty” with the competition and talked with Kozik quite a bit. He looked so freaking familiar and I couldn’t place why. He was beating the same placer-caliber wrestlers I was beating in that bracket, so obviously he wasn’t a jabroni or a beginner. He explained that he had been a light weight guy and was in the middle of a growth spurt and hadn’t wrestled the guys around this weight range, but so far, he liked how he was doing against them. That made sense. I asked him how long he had been wrestling freestyle and if he were any good at it and he smirked and said, “oh I’ve been doing it a while…and I’m not too bad.” I then babbled about how I thought I was a natural at it and that I didn’t feel the need to develop any freestyle moves or technique because I was just fine using folkstyle moves. I’ll never forget his response. He got the orneriest look on his face and said, “yeah, a lot of people say that in their first year.”
So our finals match arrived and I got off to a good start. Back then it was two 1.5 minute periods and a break between. I got off to an 8-0 lead. All from carries with back exposure. No freestyle. He was pissed when he headed to the corner. “One more takedown,” I thought. Break ended and I walked back to the center and he STORMED there. Period starts and he takes me down immediately and then the next 20 seconds introduced me to a world that was 100% unfamiliar to me. I was rolling around the mat somehow…I wasn’t trying to, but somehow I was rolling in circles and while this was going on, I hear the referee calling, “2!, 2!, 2!” Before I could figure out why he was scoring all these points, the referee stopped the match. He teched me out 18-8. He put me in about 8 leg-laces/gut-wrenches in about 20 seconds.
Fast forward about 10 months and he and I were to meet in the semifinals. That freestyle match was firmly etched into my mind at the time still, but I tried to ignore it. I got off to a good start and held an early lead, but didn’t feel comfortable until the 2nd period when we went out of bounds. I remember looking at one of my friends and winking and mouthing, “I got this.” A few steps later I stepped over a half and he put me on my back. Then in the 3rd period, he put me on my back again… I am telling you, when this guy got on a roll, it was ugly. I think I cried every night for the next 2-3 weeks about that tournament.
I had several friends in elementary school that were wrestling so I wanted to see what it was all about. I went to a tournament after 1 practice. I was hooked.
My uncle and several cousins wrestled. My son wrestled for a little while but it was not for him. It pains me to say this, but he is one heck of a –basketball- player. LOL
The Davis’ and Josh Sickels from C.R. Prairie, Jase Jenson from Lisbon, Joe Reiter from Bosco, just to name a few.
I think is something like 112-14.
I placed 2nd my junior year.
I struggled a lot trying to make weight my sophomore year. I missed several matches and tourney’s because of it.
I would like to have thought I had an aggressive style. I didn’t shoot very often, but if I was on top, I would always try to hammer down and get the fall.
I went back and forth with Andy Frost from Bosco several times.
In high school, Bob Yilek was my most influential coach. But growing up, I had some very good coaches. Kurt Hinschberger, Chip Kalina, Al Billings, Jim Drahos, Ralph Gallagher, Dan Blanchard are some of the fellows I give credit to in shaping me and our team from the time we were youngsters.
I would say our high school team was very competitive. We started young and stuck with it all the way through high school, and won Traditional and Dual tournament.
It is Czech. I am a Bohemian.
I think Belle Plaine ranks up high with legendary teams. We may not have the hardware that the most notable programs have, but any team with the right mindset and attitude is dangerous.
I would not trade my days at Belle Plaine for anything. There were a lot of memories made that will last a lifetime!
Matt Hoover. It was always neat watching him prepare and the hype of the match, no matter how big it was, got your blood pumping. Watching him win, made me want to follow in his footsteps.
How can you not love watching these Iowa Hawkeyes?
Any rock music.
It actually was not on the mat. The most upset I have ever been was losing my Grandpa Kozik. He made the time to make it to as many of my matches as he could, regardless of his health and how busy he was on the farm.
I would have listened to my coaches more and worked harder.
My best wrestling memory was when we were seniors. We were neck and neck with Bosco in the State Duals. Derek Beal was at heavyweight and he needed to win. The match started and he got taken down and got put to his back. We thought we were finished and kind of buried our heads. All of a sudden the crowd erupted and Derek reversed and pinned the guy. We had just won the state championship and rushed the mat. Amazing memory and a great feeling!
Jesse Montgomery from Tri-County. Strongest kid I have ever wrestled. We always had close matches.
I wrestled all year long. A bunch of us on the high school team did a lot of freestyle and greco in the offseason. It wasn’t a big deal to get 150 to 200 matches in the summer.
Wrestling today is different than when we were in high school. Maybe I am biased, but I believe we were tougher back then. No offense to the wrestlers of today, but it is a different time period. Same as the fellows that came before us.
I wrestled a little at Loras College, but it was not for me.
I played football, baseball, and ran track.
Iowa Hawkeyes, Kansas City Chiefs
Anything outdoors- hunting, fishing, camping, mushroom hunting. If there is a season for it, I am probably doing it.
Wrestling taught me to focus, work hard, be humble, and to set goals for yourself.
I work for Kinze Manufacturing in service and warranty, farm with my dad, and am a volunteer firefighter.
I am not involved with wrestling anymore due to work, but follow it very close.
Listen to your coaches. They have been there and have done that. Work hard and set the bar high. Believe in yourself. If you lose, do not consider it a loss, but a chance to learn and grow.
Not a chance in hell… my body told me “Try it and die fatty” LOL
My high school team. There are too many names to mention and too many memories to go with them names.
What happens in college, stays in college. But had some good times with him.
Funny Story: Josh Stamp, Jacob Feuerbach, Paul Bradley, and I were wrestling at Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota. We went to camp the week before for training. They bussed us up to Fargo. After the tourney, we were not aware that we had to find our own way home. Paul’s mom and dad were in attendance and offered to take us home. All of our gear, 3 bigger guys in the back seat and me in the front seat with Paul’s mom and dad. Mind you, this was in a Dodge Dynasty… To this day, I hate the smell of Cherry chew. Those mentioned will know what I am talking about!!!
I loved reading this!