Kelly Kubec, Viking alumni, wrestling against Boise State.
Lake Stevens High School alumnus Kelly Kubec was a three time wrestling state champion for the Vikings. He is now in his third year at Oregon State University, competing for the Beavers. There have been many outstanding wrestlers to graduate from Lake Stevens, but Kubec is the only one at this time competing at the highest level of college wrestling at an NCAA Division I school.
Kubec took his ‘red-shirt’ year in his first season in Corvallis, only competing as an unattached wrestler in college tournaments. Last year as a ‘red-shirt’ freshman, he was voted to the Division I All-Freshman team as one of the best freshman wrestlers in the nation.
He finished the season with a 20-10 record, took second at the Pac 10 Championships and earned a trip to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. A knee injury kept him out of competition for a portion of the season, but this year he is healthy and ready to take his success to a higher level.
The Journal recently talked to Kubec about his college experience and he shared these thoughts:
LSJ: How has your college experience been so far at Oregon State outside of the wrestling room?
Kubec: The college lifestyle fits my personality very well and Corvallis is a perfect environment for what I’m trying to accomplish during the next few years. It has forced me to grow up. Obviously school and wrestling are my primary focuses, but I make an effort to live like a normal student.
LSJ: What has been the biggest transition in your wrestling since getting to OSU?
Kubec: The biggest difference in any sport from high school to college is the level of play that you face on a regular basis. For me it has been a big adjustment to mentally prepare myself each and every day, whether at practice or against competition.
LSJ: What are your reflections on last season?
Kubec: Last season was a battle. There were ups and downs with injuries and poor performances, but (Head) coach (Jim) Zalesky says it is what you do at the end of the season that matters. And unfortunately after a good PAC-10 (championships), I didn’t come to compete at the NCAA tournament. It was a bittersweet moment getting to the big stage and not performing the way I know I am capable of. Watching from the stands on the last day is something that eats at you all year until you get another shot.
LSJ: What are your realistic goals for this season?
Kubec: Coming into this season I know I can compete against the best guys, it is just a matter of if I believe. Honestly, that’s something I need to improve in my wrestling. My goal is to go out and wrestle hard and compete the way I trained to compete, every match. If I do this then good things will result.
Kubec is 8-2 so far this season with all eight of his victories coming by pin. His only two losses are to wrestlers ranked higher in the polls than Kubec at number 18. He lost a close match to the number three wrestler in the nation, Andrew Hochstrasser of Boise State in a recent dual and was barely edged out in overtime by number 12 Tyler Graff of Wisconsin.
He already has a tournament championship under his belt from the Southern Oregon Open. Expect big things from Kubec this season, as he expects big things from himself. More photos from OSU’s recent duals can be found at jedicheetah.com.