Since its opening in 1997, Eastview has welcomed home one state wrestling champion. That came in 2001 when Adam Fokken pinned Austin's Chad Mentel to cap an undefeated season at 189 pounds. The victory was Fokken's 34th of the season and school record 147th of his career.
Last week Fokken was back on an Eastview wrestling mat, but as a proud observer, not a competitor. Fokken was in attendance to see Lightning senior Mitch Rechtzigel break his record. Rechtzigel, rated No. 4 in Class 3A at 160 pounds by the Guillotine, pinned South St. Paul's Mathew Mason for career victory No. 148. It pushed Rechtzigel's season record to 32-2.
"He's been very dominant at the varsity level since eighth grade and that says a lot about him," Eastview coach Kurt Habeck said. "The level of success has been there the whole time."
Habeck, who has been at Eastview since the beginning, said Fokken and Rechtigel are alike in that they both played football, excel in the classroom and have a tireless work ethic.
"Very focused and disciplined type kids," Habeck said. "A couple kids who love the sport."
Rechtzigel has come a long way since he first entered the wrestling room as a 112-pound middle-schooler. He is at his best when he's on the attack while on his feet. It's a talent that has him close to the school's all-time takedown record.
"His techniques are so much more fine-tuned," Habeck said. "His skills work on above-average kids."
Rechtzigel's season résumé thus far is impressive. He won the 160-pound bracket at the Bi-State tournament in La Crosse, Wis., in December, the first Lightning wrestler to claim a title there and the fifth year in a row he has placed at the event. He also won tournaments at Eastview and in Burnsville, and has defeated Apple Valley's Ben Sullivan (No. 3 at 170), Lakeville North's Anton Kalista (No. 7 at 160) and White Bear Lake's Cody Anderson (No. 5 at 160).
Nothing is set in stone, but Habeck said talk of Rechtzigel continuing his wrestling career beyond high school has intensified.