From the sidelines to sectionalsKnupp missed last year's sectional tournament due to injury
While his teammates wrestled at the Class 2A sectional tournament last year, Washington’s Tanner Knupp sat in the bleachers at Clear Creek-Amana High School.
He was flanked by a pair of crutches, and his right knee, which had just been surgically repaired two days before, was wrapped with a protective brace.
“It was really tough,” said Knupp, who said he watched his teammates wrestle through a haze of painkillers. “It definitely stunk watching my team compete [without me].”
Knupp had been having an excellent sophomore season, his first on the varsity squad. He had compiled a record of 25-10 before he injured his knee during an afternoon practice on Jan. 23.
“It was one of those things in practice where you’re just going live and a knee caught,” he said.
“His sophomore year he was wrestling really well and hurt his knee probably a couple of weeks before sectionals, which put him on the shelf,” Washington head coach Brent Van Weelden said. “I’m sure that was a disappointment to him.”
On Feb. 2 Knupp underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Two days later, he hobbled into the Clear Creek-Amana gymnasium to cheer on his teammates.
“I had an immobilizer on my knee, I had crutches, and definitely a lot of painkillers,” he said. “I don’t remember a lot of the day.”
Knupp missed the track season, but recovered from surgery in time to help the Demon baseball team earn a repeat trip to the state tournament. Then, this past fall, he was a tailback for the Washington football team that reached the second round of the playoffs.
“He’s probably not a true-blue wrestlter,” Van Weelden said of Knupp. “I think maybe football or baseball is probably his favorite sport, but he’s one of those kids who does everything he can. And he’s gifted. He’s a gifted athlete. He’s pretty talented in any sport that he does. He could probably go and play basketball and probably average 10 to points per game. Who knows? But I’m glad he wrestles.”
Even though he’d made a full recovery from his February surgery, Knupp said that his return to the mat in November was a bit nerve-racking.
“I was definitely kind of hesitant on getting back on the mat,” he said. “I hadn’t been on a wrestling mat since the day I tore my meniscus, so I was kind of scared, honestly, to go back and see how my knee reacted.”
But Knupp, the son of Zeus and Jackie Knupp, has been very successful this season, and has a record of 27-5 heading into Saturday’s sectional tournament at Mediapolis.
“I’m not trying to be cocky, but a lot of people can’t hold me down just because I do not want to get pinned,” Knupp said. “I don’t want to get stuck on the bottom where I can’t move.”
Knupp, who will be wrestling in his first sectional tournament on Saturday, has a goal of being a sectional champion at 152 pounds. His coach thinks that goal — and maybe more — is attainable.
“We think he’ll get through sectionals to districts and maybe to state. Who knows? At this point we think he’s got a good shot at getting through this weekend,” Van Weelden said.
Knupp will be determined to get through the sectional tournament and the district tournament and qualify for state. He doesn’t want to be sitting in the stands at Wells Fargo Arena watching his teammates compete without him.