Matthew Kindler’s journey from second-string junior varsity to undefeated state finalist came to the happy ending Saturday that he didn’t believe, until this season, was possible.
The David City Aquinas senior won his second career Class C wrestling title with a 3-0 victory over Wilber-Clatonia’s Derek Tachvosky at 195 pounds. Kindler, a Chadron State recruit, finished the season with a record of 44-0.
Kindler didn’t start wrestling until seventh grade, when a couple of his pals who were wrestling at lower weights finally wore him down and persuaded him to join the junior high team.
“I was just a kid and I was getting my (butt) kicked quite a bit,” Kindler said. “I was second-string JV as a freshman, but then I started doing more offseason wrestling and things started to get better.”
So much better that Kindler finished third at 170 pounds as a sophomore in 2014 before winning the 182-pound title in 2015.
This year Kindler entered the postseason ranked No. 1 and moved through the first three rounds of state to earn his berth in the finals.
Though he had defeated Tachvosky 18-2 in the district finals Feb. 13, Kindler wasn’t convinced going for a big number was the best way for him to win.
“I went in with the plan to wrestle more conservatively,” Kindler said. “The less I do, the less the other guy can react. So if I never make the move, I can’t make a mistake.”
Kindler carefully picked his spots to secure the three needed points. After a scoreless first period, he got a takedown 1:34 into the second period for his first two points.
“At that point I just wanted to get through the second period,” he said. “It was nice to get that last point because then I’d still be ahead if he happened to take me down.”
Things moved slowly the rest of the period and early in the third period before Kindler got the insurance point with an escape 30 seconds in.
Few wrestlers, especially his size, can explode as fast as Kindler from the down position. He uses the referee’s whistle the same way a top-level sprinter uses the starter’s gun at the beginning of a race.
“That’s huge,” Kindler said. “That’s the thing a lot of guys need, to be better at off the whistle. When you’re broken down and flat, it takes a ton more effort to get up and out of that.”
However it happened, Kindler was just happy it did.
“At this point of the season the most important thing is the win,” he said. “I never thought I’d be at this level.”
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