A South Winneshiek wrestler begins a new path.

Easton Kuboushek wrestles for South Winneshiek
An injury halted Easton Kuboushek’s plans for competing in the state wrestling tournament for South Winneshiek School.

Unexpected Turns

Life can take unexpected turns. Easton Kuboushek was on a path to the state wrestling tournament, a path he had been fortunate to experience for three consecutive years. The South Winneshiek senior knew what it took to be a state contender and had full intentions of competing in Des Moines as the grand finale to his high school wrestling career.

An injury halted Easton’s plans. During practice the night before the conference tournament in Postville, Easton was accidentally kneed in the left calf muscle. “My leg swelled like a balloon, but I wasn’t too concerned about the injury – part of wresting, or sports in general – is getting injured now and then,” shrugs Easton.

But as the evening progressed, his calf continued to stiffen until he could no longer fully straighten his leg. Unable to wrestle the following day, Easton rotated between watching his teammates’ matches and receiving impromptu treatments at the Winneshiek Medical Center Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Outreach Clinic in Postville. “The athletic trainer covering the Postville tournament, Kelli Rueckert, was informed of my injury and opened the clinic in Postville so I could start receiving therapy. I got two treatments that day, hopefully, to get me back into shape for sectionals the next weekend,” says Easton. He adds, “Kelli even came in on Sunday to do more treatments on my leg, which was above and beyond the call of duty.”

Daily therapy furthered his rehabilitation, and though he would not be 100%, Easton had full intentions to wrestle for an opportunity at state. But his life took another unexpected turn mid-week. “On Tuesday I went to school, then drove to Decorah for therapy, and on my way back to make an audition for the school play, I got too close to the center on a snow packed gravel road. I tried to scoot over, but the rear end of my vehicle slid out…and I was hit in the driver’s side by an on-coming semi,” Easton recalls.

Four hours later, Easton woke up in the Winneshiek Medical Center Emergency Department with only a mild concussion, and spent the night under the careful observation of ER physicians and nurses. He was fortunate enough to have no lasting effects from the accident.

However, Easton was unable to qualify for state wrestling. “With my concussion, I could not wrestle – doctor’s orders,” says Easton. He jokes, “With the IV fluid from the Emergency Room, I gained 15 pounds. I would have never made weight anyway!”

He says, “The accident put an abrupt halt to high school sports, and since I am a senior, I am done. I had never intended it all to end like this – it hasn’t really hit me yet that wrestling is over. When state comes around, it will be hard on me and my family.” Easton adds, “You put so much work in all season – state is what everyone works for – and now it just won’t happen.”

Easton’s attitude is fairly positive, though, as he text messages while Kelli treats his leg. When it comes time for her to massage his calf, Easton puts his phone down and clenches his fists on the sheets of the rehab table. “This is truly the worst part!” Easton confides.

These events, though quite unfortunate in and of themselves, have moved Easton’s life in one more unexpected direction. “After high school I am going to Loras College in Dubuque. Until last week, I was unsure of a path, but now I am seriously considering athletic training or sports medicine. Kelli is remarkable and her dedication to her athletes is inspiring. I have known her and the other trainers for only about two weeks. After this experience, I will not only be physically better, but will take away a feeling of closeness and a true concern for patients. I experienced this type of personal care, and I imagine other patients are treated the same way.”

Shaking his head, Easton says, “I can’t complain – I am lucky to be alive and have possibly found a calling. Someday I hope to help athletes in the way Kelli has helped me, and I look forward to cheering on my teammates as they compete for a state title.”

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