A bumpy road to the podium

Wacker overcomes injuries to end season with success


Courtesy Photo

Earning more points, Junior Derek Wacker wrestles his way to beating his Platteview opponent at Ashland-Greenwood. This was Wacker’s first meet back after his second injury of the season.

Yutan junior Derek Wacker ended his season with success as Yutan’s first boys wrestling state finalist, but success was in his mind before the season even started. 

“My goal was to place since I came up short last year at the state meet,” Wacker said. “I just wanted to get on the podium this year.”

However, this journey to the podium had several bumps before the wrestling season even started.

“I had a separated shoulder from our last regular season [football] game,” Wacker said. “But I did not let it stop me from preparing for my upcoming wrestling season.”

While waiting for his shoulder to heal, Wacker said he did a lot of cardio to keep his weight down and keep him in shape for when he would return for the meet at Osceola. But after weeks of being healed and wrestling again, Wacker suffered yet another injury in January.

“At the Battle Creek invite, I was trying to throw a guy to win the match,” Wacker said. “I threw him pretty hard but ended up pulling a rib out of place.” 

Keeping the right mindset was important to Wacker while he healed before the postseason began.

“I’m kind of used to injuries,” Wacker said. “I just knew I had to recover quickly, take it easy and not push it too hard because that’s just how things get worse.”

Luckily, Wacker recovered and his first meet back started at the A-G meet, the meet right before districts. Despite only being back for a short time after the injury, he still went into districts with confidence.

Junior Derek Wacker earns an arm raise after pinning his opponent in his first state match. Wacker ended his season with a record of 37-3. (Courtesy Photo)

“I just thought of it as another meet because it wasn’t going to be difficult,” Wacker said. “I had beaten every wrestler there before, so I knew I could do it again.”

Wacker punched his ticket to state after winning 3-0 and earning the district championship. As a returning state qualifier, he was more than excited to experience it again.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Wacker said. “You have thousands of people screaming and watching you wrestle, and you’re able to show all the hard work that you’ve done.”

After a pin in his first match at state and a battle to win 8-2 in his second, Wacker earned his spot in the finals, where he experienced one of his favorite moments of the tournament.

“Right before every match in the finals, they call out the wrestler, the record and their name,” Wacker said. “After my name, the whole Yutan crowd went crazy and it was pretty awesome.”

Wacker was taken down in the beginning of the championship, causing his opponent to stay on top throughout the rest of the match for a final score of 2-3. Although he only came up one point short of winning, he is still looking forward to what’s ahead of him.

“I was the first Yutan boys’ finalist and ended at state runner-up,” Wacker said. “I only came up one point short of taking gold, but I use that as motivation for next year.”