INDEPENDENCE — Central junior wrestler Caleb Sedlacek had no plans to become a wrestler.
“My dad would ask me if I thought about wrestling,” Sedlacek said. “I told him it doesn’t really seem that fun. I was always more of a football guy in seventh and eighth grade.”
When he was about to start his freshman year, Sedlacek’s dad convinced him to give wrestling a try, stating that wrestling could help improve him as a football player.
Sedlacek agreed, though he wasn’t exactly enthusiastic.
“You hear all the people who say wrestling is just two sweaty guys wrestling on a mat,” Sedlacek said.
But Sedlacek quickly grew to love wrestling.
“I had never wrestled before, but my teammates and coaches kept pushing me,” he said. “There’s something about it that I just grew to love. … Wrestling has built a work ethic in me. It’s not an easy sport. You can go to practice, or you can go to practice and dominate it. Whatever you choose will show up on the mat.”
Sedlacek hopes to bring that dominance to state.
Sedlacek is one of seven Central wrestlers headed to the OSAA State Wrestling Championships Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Each of the wrestlers has been focused on not letting anything distract them.
The competition will be stiff, but each of the Panthers’ state qualifiers believes he is ready for the challenge.
“I know state is going to be the longest two days of the year for me,” Sam Crow said. “I know it is going to be tough physically and especially mentally. I just have to go in with my head clear and work on what I’ve been training to do. … I can’t look past any matches. This is state. Everyone is going to be good.”
For some, like Crow and David Negrete, state is a final chance to leave their mark on Central’s wrestling program.
For others, like Sedlacek, it’s a chance to prove just how far they’ve come.
“My dad has recorded all my matches, and I’ll go back sometimes and watch my matches from my freshman year,” Sedlacek said. “I can’t even believe that was me wrestling. I feel like I’m 100 times better than I was freshman year, and I believe I can get 100 times better. That motivates me.”
Sedlacek finished second at the Mid-Willamette Conference District Wrestling Championships — a title that he felt he let slip away because of nerves and letting the crowd get to him.
He is confident that won’t happen to him again, and that he and his teammates are ready to shine and thrive.
“We have to stay focused,” Sedlacek said. “We have to keep being motivated and realize what we could have at the end of Saturday night.”