By STEVE KRAH
For the better part of the past two decades, high school wrestlers in the Fiechter family have been regularly getting their hands raised in victory while wearing Southern Wells colors.
Five Fiechter brothers — Vince (Class of 2004), Troy (2009), Darin (2010), Benjamin (2013) and William (2020) have accounted for more than 600 mat triumphs.
All have eclipsed the 100-victory mark and rank among the winningest wrestlers in Raider history.
Four have represented Southern Wells at the IHSAA State Finals.
Vince Fiechter (118-18) placed fourth at 125 pounds in 2004.
Darin Fiechter (134-28) was a state qualifier at 130 in 2010.
Benjamin Fiechter (135-20) was state qualifier at both 126 in 2012 and 132 in 2013.
William Fiechter (117-21) was a state qualifier at 138 in 2019, losing an 11-10 overtime match in the first round.
“State was shock for sure,” says Fiechter. “Looking back, it was good for me. I learned to never take anything for granted. If I would have placed last year, there wouldn’t be as much fire or motivation to really push hard this year."
“I’ve definitely got a fire under me and I’m working hard because I want to get over that Friday night match.”
Troy Fiechter (121-28) was a four-time semistate qualifier.
In addition, William set the school record with 92 takedowns in 2018-19 and ranks high in career takedowns as well as season and career wins.
“There’s a 15-year age gap between my oldest brother Vince and me,” says William. “(My brothers) were really good at teaching me. They did not force their techniques on me. I think I’ve picked up something from every single one of them. They’ve always pushed me to be a hard worker."
“They’ve always made me understand that there’s way more in life than wrestling. But wrestling can definitely help me out in life.”
The youngest Fiechter is back for his senior season in 2019-20 and competing at 145. Through the Dec. 7 Wabash County championships, William is 11-0 for the 2019-20 season. He went 5-0 in the county meet at Northfield with four pins and a major decision.
What William appreciates about wrestling is its individuality.
“I can be my own person,” says William Fiechter. “I get what I put in. I enjoy the challenge of it."
“I definitely have a lot of people around me who push me to be a better man and a better wrestler. There’s also a lot of motivation knowing that wrestling will help me later in life. It definitely makes you tougher.”
Fiechter regularly works out in the practice room with friends he grew up with, including Jed Perry, Josh Beeks and Jacob Duncan.
How do they help each other get better?
“Just knowing that we can’t let up every single day,” says Fiechter.
“Even if you don’t feel like wrestling, those are the days you probably become a better wrestler."
“You have a practice partner who’s going to push you no matter what.”
Southern Wells head coach Ryan Landis has been working with the Class of 2020 since they were fifth graders.
“This is a special group of seniors,” says Landis. “They’ve stuck together. They push each other to get better. It’s a real fun group to coach.”
Fiechter, who has competed some with the Adams Central club and as an independent in the high school off-season, offers a scouting report on himself.
“Being around the sport quite a bit has helped my technique,” says Fiechter. “I’m definitely not as aggressive as I should be probably. I’m trying to learn a little more aggression. I’m pretty quick so that helps.”
Pondering his future, William is considering college or perhaps becoming an entrepreneur.
“I’d like to end up on the farm someday,” says Fiechter.
The hands of the Fiechters have also been kept busy farming. The family, which is led by former wrestler and 1981 Adams Central High School graduate Lynn Fiechter (a state runner-up at 112 in 1980) and wife Ronda, works around 5,000 acres — mostly corn and soybeans with some swine.
The closest town to the farm is Keystone. Southern Wells High School is near Poneto.
Summer days might find the Fiechters boating or water skiing. The Fiechters are also a musical family and have recorded CD’s of their favorite gospel songs. William plays the guitar and ukulele.
“Mom and dad are very good singers and passed down to some of us kids,” says Fiechter. “We were blessed with the ability that we should sing. It’s something we enjoy. It brings us closer together.”
Fiechter appreciates Landis for showing him the way both off and on the mat.
“The example he’s set has had a big impact on me,” says Fiechter. “He has this saying: Be brave when you’re scared; Be strong when you’re weak; Be humble when you’re victorious. That’s one that’s stuck with me.”
Landis, a 2000 Southern Wells graduate, was an assistant for his first three years after high school and has been Raiders head coach since 2004.
“I don’t know where that came from,” says Landis of the saying. “But it’s something we’ve adopted these last three or four years.
“It’s awesome. It’s great. It’s what wrestling is about. It’s about finding that last bit of strength in your body when you don’t think you can do it. It’s about being humble when you are victorious, knowing that if you don’t keep working hard somebody’s going to come up and kick your butt.”
Landis has coached all of the Fiechter brothers.
“The personality is all completely different,” says Landis of the Fiechters. “But the No. 1 characteristic is that they’re the hardest-working kids in the room. Growing up on the farm, they just work hard in everything they do."
“William is the most down-to-earth kid you’ll ever talk to. As much success as William has had on the mat, he’s a kid that you still have to pump confidence into him. He’s very humble. He’s very hard-working. He’s fun to be around.”
Landis sees William as a solid mat technician.
“He’s very fundamentally-sound,” says Landis. “He’s not a wild, crazy scrambler. Everything’s cautious and in position. He’s hard to score on. A couple takedowns and an escape and he’s in control of the match.”
There are several key dates on the South Wells calendar. Besides the Wabash County Championships Dec. 7 at Northfield, there’s the Allen County Athletic Conference Duals Dec. 13-14, Connersville Spartan Classic Dec. 27-28, ACAC Championships Jan. 24 at Woodlan, Jay County Sectional Feb. 1, Jay County Regional Feb. 8, Fort Wayne Semistate Feb. 15 and State Finals Feb. 21-22.