#WrestlingWednesday Feature: Wabash Wrestling has Lefever Fever
Brought to you by EI Sports
By JEREMY HINES
To say Wabash Collegeâ€™s wrestling program is like a family might be an understatement.
Wabash has five wrestlers who have qualified for this weekendâ€™s Division III Nationals, three of which are brothers.
The Little Giantâ€™s are hoping those brothers can catapult the team to their best ever finish in the National Championship.
â€œLast year we finished ninth as a team, which was our best finish ever,â€ Wabash assistant coach Danny Irwin said. â€œWithout a doubt we feel like we should do much better this year, just based on our seeds. All five guys are capable of getting on top of the podium.â€
Wabash is led by the Lefever brothers, who wrestled for Fort Wayne Carroll in high school. Twins Reece and Conner are seniors. Reece is the No. 2 seed at 157 pounds. Conner is the top seed at 174 pounds and younger brother Riley, a sophomore, is a returning champion who is the No. 1 seed at 184 pounds.
Wabash freshman Devin Broukal and junior Ethan Farmer, both from Bloomington South High School, have also qualified for Nationals, but are unseeded.
Riley won Nationals last season. Wrestling didnâ€™t always come easy to the youngest Lefever brother, however. In high school he finished his freshman season with a dismal 11-18 record. He improved by his sophomore year, finishing 26-15. As a junior things really started to click. Riley was 38-3 his junior year, wrestling at 160 pounds.
In his senior season Riley finished 46-1 and was a state runner up.
â€œI didnâ€™t really start to enjoy wrestling until my freshman year,â€ Riley said. â€œThatâ€™s when I found my love for the sport. I started wrestling all year around with my brothers. Because of that, I really started to improve pretty quickly.â€
The Lefevers are each othersâ€™ biggest supporters, but they are also highly competitive with one another â€“ especially Conner and Reece.
â€œWith Riley being the little, big brother (heâ€™s younger, but physically bigger) he doesnâ€™t get into it as much as Reece and Conner do,â€ Irwin said. â€œI think those two would just assume kill each other then let the other guy win. We have to break them up all the time for the good of the team."
â€œBut as much as they fight, I donâ€™t think anyone could be as supportive to each other as they are.â€
Conner admits that Riley is the toughest of the three right now, mainly because of his size.
â€œRiley would beat the crap out of us,â€ he said. â€œHe throws us around like rag dolls. We have had a lot of time to throw him around like that, until he got in college. We donâ€™t like it, but it is what it is.â€
All three brothers credit their parents, Kent and Nancy, for pushing them to get better in the sport.
â€œI know the way we were raised has had a big impact on how we wrestle,â€ Reece said. â€œMy parents sent us to camps. They were always willing to spend the time and money it took to get us to tournaments and camps. They always made sure they gave us every opportunity in wrestling.â€
Even now, Kent and Nancy do not miss any matches. They travel all across the country to see their three boys compete.
All three are hoping to take home a National Championship. They know that if they do, Wabash will place higher than it ever has before.
â€œThey all three can win,â€ Irwin said. â€œAnd hopefully get us some bonus points in the mix. If they do that, that will put us in contention for a National title.â€
Wabash finished the season with a 12-2 mark and was fourth at the National Duals.
â€œWe all love this school,â€ Reece said. â€œThe team camaraderie is very good. We are all close friends and we all want our team to succeed. We are definitely a family at Wabash.â€