Randy Speer, The Circuit
In the first four years of Benedictine wrestling’s history, there has been one constant – the success of Stephen Loosbrock.
The senior has amassed a career record of 104-39 and qualified for the national meet all four years he has wrestled for Benedictine. Last year, he finished second in the 197-pound weight class, the best finish in school history.
The Circuit sat down with Loosbrock prior to the national meet – his final as a Raven – to talk about his senior year and life outside of wrestling.
Circuit: You came back this year for another shot at the national title, how has that been going?
Loosbrock: “Its been a challenge this year. There have been a lot of different aspects, just trying to get the right training partners. I lost a significant training partner in Ethan Jirac – he graduated. Just getting in, getting used to new training partners, overcoming some minor injuries. I am just trying to time it so I peak toward the end of the season instead of the middle. That’s kind of been the challenge. I think I have the right formula.”
You are the first four-time qualifier for the national tournament. How has that experience helped you for this final time?
‘The first couple of times, it’s a different experience. The pressure seems to be a little higher. From the last three years the biggest experience I gained is I feel comfortable there. It’s a burden to get there, so I feel relaxed just making it and letting the cards fall where they may so to speak. I feel like I am in a good position because of those last three years. They have built me up and prepared me well for it.”
Have you thought about this being your final meet?
“I honestly try not to think about it too much. Wrestling has given me something no other sport could offer me – an education, self-reliance, discipline. It’s a lot to take it and it probably wont hit me to a few weeks after, but its been a blessing… When time come for me to take the shoes off for the last time I’m sure it’ll be hard.”
You recently got engaged to former Benedictine women’s soccer player Bethany Smith. How did that happen?
“We had been dating for two years and I had been planning on proposing for quite some time. I know she was getting a little antsy. It was December fifth – it was actually our anniversary. I took her to Loose Park over by the Plaza (in Kansas City, Missouri). Its where we had gone on our first date. We went for a walk through the park and I proposed over by one of the ponds. Her sisters were there taking pictures.
That was early in the morning and then we just went through our whole first date. I am excited for that too. That’s one of the next big things in my life. Wrestling has been great and its offered me a lot of things, but I am really looking forward to being married to Bethany and hopefully becoming a father.
She has been an amazing support through it all. She is an All-American athlete herself, so it helps to have that perspective on the other side.”
Are you enjoying the new wrestling room after having to set up and take down the mats for the past few years?
“The first time when I got here we practiced in Atchison High school in an auto mechanics shop. That was our first unofficial year, then we moved to the Haverty gym where we rolled them out and rolled them up every day. It was a struggle to find times where we could be in there and not be in anyone’s way… Having the wrestling room has been really nice. You don’t have to take 20, 30 minutes to set up and take down. You can show up wrestle and focus on practice. It saves time and we are out of peoples way. And you know, its our own. Its our own little renegade room.”
With this being your last meet, is it national title or bust?
“I’ve got nothing to hold back. I’ve trained for this, longed for this and if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. That’s obviously the goal, I am not thinking of anything less. I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t go there and try to capitalize on my position. Its all culminating on this point and I just have to pull the trigger.”
The NAIA National Meet is March 4-5 in Topeka, Kansas. The opening round begins at 9 a.m.