By the smallest of painful margins, Cale Woyvodich’s quest for a third trip to the state wrestling tournament came to end a year ago, his spleen cut in half.
Ranked No. 1 in state 2A at 120 pounds, he won his first two matches – the first with a pin 54 seconds into the match and the second 4-2 in overtime in the regional tournament.
But he had to forfeit the championship match because of a season-ending injury in the second match.
Woyvodich and his opponent had landed awkwardly. “He picked me up to return me to the mat. His knuckles were angled underneath my ribs. It was literally the perfect thing,” he said
Woyvodich would have been fine if those knuckles had landed just a centimeter away.
“I was ranked No. 1 all year long. I had all the dreams and goals set out in front of me,” he said, but “it was just ripped away just like in a matter of seconds.”
“It was pretty heart-breaking,” he said.
He had to convince a lot of people, including his parents and his year-round coach, that he was ready for the mat. He told everyone, “Hey it’s OK. I am not going to do that again,” he said.
It was “pretty emotional” for his family and friends to see him on the mat again at the first tournament after his injury, he said. He won, by a fall, in 20 seconds.
Woyvodich, again ranked No. 1 in the state in his weight class, and teammate Luis Cuellar are on track to compete in the Mat Classic state tournament next month in Tacoma.
Woyvodich of Tukwila is a senior at Seattle Christian School but wrestles for Foster. Cuellar, a Foster junior, and Woyvodich wrestled together at Showalter Middle School; Patrick Kalalau was their coach then as he is now.
Kalalau ranks them as two of the best wrestlers at Foster ever.
Cuellar and Woyvodich were the Seamount League champions last season, Cuellar at 113 pounds and Woyvodich at 120 pounds.
This season, Cuellar is wrestling at 132 pounds.
Woyvodich placed fourth in the state tournament as a freshman at 106 pounds and a sophomore at 113 pounds.
Cuellar competed in last year’s Mat Classic, losing his first two rounds.
Woyvodich is still making his college plans and he’s leaving it on the table whether he wrestles at the college level.
“Definitely, education has to come first,” he said.