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Joe Foster wrestled all season long with a torn ACL in his left leg.

DALLAS — Not only did Dallas High School senior Joe Foster come into the wrestling season later than everyone else, he also took second place in the 132-pound bracket at this year’s state tournament with a giant brace on his left leg.

“I tore my ACL right before the start of football season, so I wasn’t able to even play any of the actual football games,” Foster said. “It was sad.”

He wasn’t going to let that injury come in the way of his last high school wrestling season and after months of dealing with doctors, he was finally cleared to get back into it.

“I had to get a custom brace to wrestle in, so (that) took a long time,” Foster said, “plus, waiting for the MRI results, and just getting all the steps we had to take, it just took so long.”

Wrestling practice begins in November, and Foster said he was cleared to wrestle in the beginning of January.

“I got cleared Jan. 1, and there was a tournament that weekend, so I had two practices before I had to go and wrestle,” he said. “I wrestled two weight classes bigger than I normally do, so I had no conditioning whatsoever, and then I had to go and wrestle kids way bigger than me. The first match I went out there and I got tossed around and, I dunno, I won. It was crazy; I won that whole day, but it was bad. I was so tired, and wrestling felt weird because I hadn’t wrestled with my brace on for more than two days. I got used to it after a while but that first couple weeks, it was crazy. It changed how I wrestled a lot. There were certain moves I couldn’t do anymore.”

The practice and mat time he missed didn’t seem to affect him.

Foster made it to the state tournament, adapting to wrestling with a torn ACL. Despite the obstacles, he clinched second place after a tough finals match.

“(The match) was not good,” he said. “I wrestled him earlier in the year, and it was a really close match, and then, I dunno, I don’t think I went out there wrestling the best that I could. And I think that he came more prepared for how I was going to wrestle. It just felt like he knew what I was going to do beforehand. I wanted first (place) since sixth grade, but it’s what happens; you gotta move on I guess. But I’m going to wrestle in college now, so I’m going to try to be a national champion now instead of a state champion.”

Foster will head off to Corban University, in Salem, in the fall. It will be the first time Corban University has had a wrestling program.

In the meantime, however, Foster will be recovering from ACL surgery.

“The plan is, I haven’t talked to a doctor yet ... but I want to try and be back wrestling by the end of the summer,” Foster said. “I’ll still have to wear my brace until I’m fully healed, but it’s better than nothing.”

He said he’s looking forward to wrestling in college, but closing the door on this chapter has been weird, he said.

“I dont know; it feels like there’s a hole, like — it’s done now,” Foster said. “I’ve been working for so long to wrestle, and I’ve always grown up as a Dallas Dragon or a LaCreole Wildcat, and they’re what made me what I am, they built me. And now that it’s over, I’m going to a college to wrestle and it’s not with the same people, so it’s going to be weird. It’s just different not having the same Dallas Dragon persona or family. But, I don’t know, it’s exciting, either way.”

His time spent with the Dragons has been memorable, and he has many memories from the past four years. One sticks out in particular. 

“We went up to Bend, like we do every year, and we go to this tournament called the Wrestling Classic, and ... we had really tough duals, and we just walked through every team like it was nothing. We won, and we got our sweatshirts, and we were all just super happy, and we all got back to the bus to drive back to the hotel, and all the coaches were happy, and then the coach turned on the radio and our team song came on. Well, it wasn’t our team song, but it was a song everyone knew and liked, and it started at the beginning, and it was, like, meant to be.”

Foster said he has so many to thank for the last four years at DHS.

“All my coaches. That’s for sure,” he said. “They’re who made me who I am. Austin Markee hes been working with me since sixth grade. We do workouts all the time, post season he takes us to camps, he takes me to Reno and we wrestle in Reno. We do lots of workouts in the summer, and he’s probably one of the main people who made Dallas wrestling a family for me. All the coaches too. Olliff, especially. He has a different way of coaching but it gets everyone going. He leads. I couldn’t thank him more for what he does.”

There was one more person who he said helped to turn this year around after his injury. 

Athletic Trainer “Jennifer Krug,” he said. “She helped me so much, just with everything, after football and everything. Without Jen, we wouldn’t have known I had a torn ACL for way longer. It would have been way worse. Plus, she helped me in the first half of wrestling season, working out every day, getting ready. So yeah, big thanks to her.”

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