CEDAR RAPIDS – Evan Obert recalled how his wrestling matches thrilled and tormented his mother.
Obert suffered a loss that dwarfed anything he experienced on a wrestling mat. His mother, Lori Obert, 38, died on June 12, 2012, after a six-year battle with breast cancer.
The Luther sophomore wrestled with her on his mind as he earned All-American honors at the 2013 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Evan Obert placed eighth at 133 pounds.
“It was always something to keep in the back of my mind,” Evan Obert said about his mother. “I did it for both me and her.”
Evan Obert recalled how anxious she was during matches, behaving like a prototypical wrestling mother. Many times she removed herself, relying on other family members for updates.
“She hated it, but she loved it at the same time,” Obert said. “She could barely watch matches. She’d always be in the hallway, getting updates from my dad or grandpa.”
The loss was devastating to the 20-year-old, the oldest of five children. It was tough to endure, but he persevered thanks to her memory.
“You just keep your head up,” Evan Obert said. “You think of what she would want you to keep doing instead of slumping around about it. She’d rather you’d be successful and proud.”
The year didn’t start well. As things turned around during the second-half of the season, another valley hit. He said he worked on fixing little things with his style, and praised the coaches for pushing him in January and maintaining his confidence.
The postseason started with a fifth-seed at the regional qualifier. His 5-2 win over Concordia-Moorhead’s Jacoby Bergeron secured a top-eight finish and created an emotional scene as he hugged all three coaches before retreating to the stands.
“It was pretty exciting,” Evan Obert said. “Being able to go up to my stepdad and grandpa (Lori Obert’s father), it was definitely good to give them a hug, because they both know the hard road I had and for it to pay off with something like this is special.”
The focus has switched to improving on this accomplishment. He is already planning on what needs to be done to ascend the awards stand.
“I’m going to work hard through the summer and in the offseason,” Evan Obert said. “I definitely want to be higher up on that podium.”
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