By ANDY HEINTZ Courier Sports Writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The terms winner and loser carry with them meanings that are often deluded by an artificial simplicity that measures a person’s worth by glossy statistics and wins and losses.
The disproportionate emphasis placed on cold statistics and indifferent mathematics merely ripples the surface without plumbing the depths of a person’s character. Such is the case with Ottumwa wrestler Levi Cobler. A cursory glance at the senior Bulldogs’ unimpressive win-loss record wrestling at 182 pounds fails to illuminate Cobler’s important role on this season’s young wrestling squad. But, a few minutes chatting with first-year wrestling coach Jeremy Frueh quickly evinces Cobler’s inherent value to the Ottumwa wrestling program.
“He stays on kids as far as practice attendance,” Frueh said. “He leads our warmups every day. He’s a really positive influence on everyone. He’s going to be a great employee someday.”
Not only does Cobler encourage his teammates to wrestle to their full potential on the mat, he encourages them to shine in other areas as well.
“If I talk to the kids about grades he [Cobler] will say ‘hey guys, we got to make sure we’re passing our classes,’” Frueh said.
“It’s important to be a leader on this team,” Cobler added, “to help push and encourage these guys to know that they can get through the struggles of practice, that they can beat ranked opponents, that they can beat anyone they step on the mat with.”
For Cobler, his role as a team motivator started as a freshman, but his words carry more weight now that he’s a senior.
“Individually, I just always want to give it my best every time I’m on the mat,” he said. “I mean, I know my win-loss record probably isn’t the best, but I just want to give my best and make the best of every opportunity because this is my last year and I don’t want to have any regrets.”
In addition, the senior wrestler wants opposing teams to have a healthy amount of fear of Ottumwa’s wrestling program when they step on the mat with the Bulldogs.
“We want to have a positive winning record,” Cobler said, “and when we step on the mat I want people to be scared of us because of how physical we are, and because we never quit and we will always wrestle all three periods.”
To follow Andy Heintz’s Twitter feed, go to @heintz23