Talk about overcoming adversity and succeeding despite the fact that doing so was perceived by many as defying logic… Andy Roush is the poster-boy for that. What Andy accomplished in his wresting career is stuff of legend, considering he outperformed the overwhelming majority of wrestlers at his weight class and did so after having one of his legs amputated. It doesn’t surprise me that his wrestling roots can be traced back to the Moscow Wrestling Club, for all those guys were tough as hell and adversity-tried and tested… but Roush is in his own category. I remember when he first started taking wrestling real serious as a JH kid. He wrestled my brother, Justin at every…single…local wrestling tournament and it was fun watching him improve throughout the course of the season, to the point where he placed in one of the state’s toughest ever AAU brackets I’ve ever seen… Don’t believe me? Check this out:
1ST PLACE: Mack Reiter- Don Bosco- 4 time Champ.
2ND PLACE: Tony Hager- Ogden- 6th, 2nd, 2nd in HS.
3RD PLACE: Justin Swafford- Mepo- 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 7th
4TH PLACE-?!?!?! AHHH!!! Who is this kid?!
5TH PLACE– Justin Bohlke- Kingsley Pierson- 3rd, 1st and 4th in HS…
6TH PLACE– Andy Rousch-Wilton- 3rd and 3rd in HS
7TH PLACE– Charlie Ettelson- Hudson- 2nd, 1st and 1st in HS.
8TH PLACE– Adam Gottschalk-Hempstead- 4th, 1st and 3rd at state in HS.
And to any of you who knows someone who could benefit by Andy’s story of his journey of perseverance and accomplishments despite being faced with what many would consider to be a barrier that is too tough to overcome, then share this article with them, not for my sake, but for any individual you know who could use the help, not to mention, in honor of Andy Roush. Andy has made it a point that he has a high interest in helping others any way he can in overcoming their own personal obstacles, which is a true testament to the great character that he possesses.
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
My parents signed me up when I was 6 years old. I wrestled for the Moscow Wrestling Club. They ended up having to pull me from the club about halfway through; because that is when they found out I had cancer and was going to have to have my leg removed. But mostly my friends encouraged me to wrestle; Gabe Boorn and Devin Maxwell.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
My brother Richie wrestled. He wasn’t the greatest at the sport and didn’t apply himself too much. He liked to come home and practice his new moves on his younger brothers.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
8th Grade was my first year back to wrestling since leaving the club (Moscow Wrestling Club) when I was 6. I ended up placing 6th at AAU State. My rivals in youth were probably Robbie McIntire from West Liberty, Derick Ball from Columbus Juction and Justin Swafford from Mediapolis.
What was your record in HS?
In High School my record was right around 111-26.
How did you place at state in HS?
I took the hard road. I lost in the first round both my Jr. and Sr. years at state. I’ve always hated losing. I’ve always been pretty competitive and held my standards higher than everyone else around me.
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
Since I only have one leg, it’s not hard to make me off-balanced for a takedown. I adapted by dropping to my knee at the whistle (bulldog-ish). This took my disadvantage and turned it into an advantage.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
My style was unique. When the whistle would blow, I would drop down to my knee and hands (like a bulldog). So people would attack my head and my upper body was a lot stronger than most of the guys I wrestled. I would get into a lot of scrambles too.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
Derick Ball is the one that comes to mind. He and I went back and forth many times. I don’t remember the exact wins to loss record, but it was fun.
Who was your most influential coach?
Pete Smith. This guy was basically my personal coach. He and I practiced every single day together. He helped me figure a lot of different things and how to wrestle with my own style and being comfortable with my style. I owe a lot of thanks to that man. I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a great person inside and out!
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
My Freshman and Sophomore years of high school, we made it to state duals, but didn’t place. My Jr. year we had a great team. We took seven guys to state that year. Alex Grunder, JJ Cooper, Chad Beatty, Gabe Boorn, Tyler Babb, Tade Kraklio and myself. We won individual state and placed 3rd at duals.
I don’t think anyone wrestled my brother more than you did in one season. It seemed like you guys couldn’t get away from each other as 8th graders. What was that year like for you and how cool was it placing in that AAU bracket that year with all those future state champs who were in there?
I kind of became friends with Justin (Swafford) and we would talk about the kids in our bracket. He would tell me what moves to watch out for and so on. I always hated wrestling him because he would always beat me. I remember him (Justin) telling me at AAU state that year about Mack Reiter. He said, “if you wrestle that guy watch out for his cradle.”
Do you still follow Wilton wrestling? How cool is it that they’ve always been so consistent?
I don’t follow Wilton as closesly as I should. Especially since my best friend is the High School Wrestling Coach. Gabe Boorn. Knowing the kids program and the amount of work the coaches and community put into this sport, its not surpising that our program is so consistent. We have our up and down years just like anyone else, but it takes commitment by an entire community to make a great program and Wilton defiently does that.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
Spencer Lee. That kid is a stud!
What tunes would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
Godsmack, A/C D/C, Marilyn Manson, and Metallica.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Not going to lie. I’m still a little upset with this loss. haha.. It would have been my Sr. year of high school, my very first match at state. It was my first and only loss of the season. After that loss, I went downstairs of the “Barn” and I threw up and then laid down on the floor face down and cried. I wanted to be a state champion so badly and that loss just crushed my dream, the one thing i’ve worked so hard for. I hung my head a little bit off his leg and he threw a headlock, and pinned me.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
It would have to be that first loss at state my Sr. year. I wouldn’t have hung my head off his leg when I was attempting a takedown.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
My best wrestling memory would be the community. It seems like everyone in Wilton and surrounding areas follow the sport. Everywhere I went, people would come up to me and congratulate me and support me. My greatest accomplishment would have to be losing in the first round of the state tournament not once, but twice and bouncing back by wrestling back to get 3rd both years. It’s not easy to wrestle all the way back after getting your dreams crushed, but so far I am still the only person in the Wilton High School program to have done this. You win 4 Matches at the state tournament you are a champion. If you lose first round and you have to wrestle 6(?) matches back to get 3rd. It’s not easy, but I hated losing so I wasn’t about to lose again.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
Derick Ball. We wrestled from 8th grade all the way to our Sr. year of High School.
I didn’t wrestle in College. I’ve always dealt with chronic pain in my hip area, on the side where they removed my leg. I had surgery in 10th grade to try and fix my pain issues, but it only made it worse. That took most of my wrestling season away from me. But I wasn’t about to contuine on to college with the pain issues.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
I only wrestled folkstyle, so it was seasonal. Although a month before wrestling season. Gabe and I would ride our bikes from my house to Durant and back every morning. That was about a 15 mile ride, there and back. I only had a BMX bike too.
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
Of course with my wrestling mentality I would say our generation would dominate guys today. But I think that’s everyone’s mentality when you’re competitive.
Did you wrestle after high school?
No I didn’t wrestle after High School. I had plenty of offers, but with my pain issues I decided it was in my best interest not to.
What other sports did you play?
I was on the swim team for many years before wrestling. But since wrestling and swimming are at the same time, I gave up swimming after my 7th grade year and started my wrestling career in 8th grade.
What are your favorite sports teams?
I mostly follow college sports. But I’m always for the Hawkeyes.
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking.
How much of an inspiration was Nick Ackerman to you? Have you met Nick, Wade Satern or Dan Klavviter?
I didn’t really know Nick Ackerman until after I graduated. Funny story about how I met him though. I was actually at a gentleman’s club for a friend‘s bachelor party. He came up to me and introduced himself. We didn’t get to talk much because the music was loud and the beverages were flowing.
I’ve never met Wade, but I got a letter from the house of representatives that him and I were introduced. The letter said something along the lines of “Hats off to Wade Satern and Andy Roush for competing at the state wrestling tournament, with both competing with one leg”.
I wrestled Dan Klavviter about four times throughout my high school career. I beat him every time, and I believe that our last match I tech falled him. He was a very strong guy, I do remember that.
Have you ever had the opportunity to discuss your journey about chasing and reaching your goals to other individuals who were born with similar adversity to work through?
No I haven’t, but I would love to. So if anyone out there has a child that has a similar situation, please don’t hesistate to reach out to me. I would love to help anyway that I can.
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
I love helping others. The issue I have when trying to help kids with two legs is that my wrestling style, moves, positions, etc. are completly different. So teaching the basics to kids (single leg, double leg, take downs, and so on) is very hard for me to teach since my style is different.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
Wrestling has shaped me into being a hard worker. I outwork a lot of people with two legs. I always have. I don’t see anything as being impossible. I just have to approach everything as, “okay, how am I going to be able to do this.” It’s never, “I can’t do this.” It’s “what do i need to do to acomplish this task?”
What do you do now?
I am a Electronic Test Engineer at a small software company.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
I helped teach youth wrestling two years ago, but sat out this season. I do plan on getting back to helping the youth wrestling program in the future.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Nothing is impossible, the sky really isn’t a limit just a goal to reach for. The only limitations you have are the ones that you set for yourself.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
If I could ever get my fat ass in shape. lol 🙂
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
The person that alwas comes to my mind when it involves wrestling is my Coach Pete Smith. I can’t say enough about this guy and the influence he had on me to shape me into the wrestler I became.
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
I remember wrestling Mark Kist my senior year during my wresle back at the state tournament. After our match we had to go down and weigh in for the next round. The offical who reffed our match said to him “Wasn’t that kind of weird wrestling that guy with one leg”? Mark just pointed at me standing on the other side of him. I got a chuckle out of that.
Here is a post I made about myself on Facebook a couple of years ago:
When I was 6 years old i was diagnosed with ewings sarcoma. It’s a rare type of bone cancer. I had about 14% chance of surviving. I had to have my left leg removed, part of my hip, and part of my pelvis to make sure to get all the cancer cells. The doctors said that id probably never walk again. Two weeks later I was up walking around with a walker. I use crutches now. A prosthetic is almost impossible for me, because I have nothing to attach it to. So I just use crutches. I get around just fine, I don’t need help doing anything. I was on the swim team up until 7th grade, I made it state multiple times and placed.
I gave up swimming at the end 7th grade and picked up on wrestling in 8th grade. I got 6th at AAU state. My Jr. Year of high school I got 3rd, and my senior year at state I got 3rd again. I was predicted to win state my senior year. I was 36-1 at the end of my Sr. Year, and i was also ranked 16th in the nation.