After a two-year absence, a sleeker, quicker Ruben Holcomb has stepped back on the wrestling mat. After wrestling as a freshman, the Snider senior took a couple of years off because he wanted to get bigger to play along the offensive line for the Panthers’ football team.
The 6-foot-5 Holcomb has trimmed his weight almost 40 pounds to get down to 282 and is 5-0 at heavyweight for the defending conference champion Panthers heading into the dual-tournament portion of the SAC schedule today at Bishop Dwenger.
I wanted to last year, but I was kind of heavy in the 300s, Holcomb said of returning to wrestling. I cut all that weight off during football, and I figured I might as well since I already cut weight for it, and I missed it. I thought it would be a good way to keep in shape over the winter for football in the future.
Snider coach Dave Mohr had been trying to get Holcomb on the wrestling team for a couple of years. Holcomb told him last spring about his desire to return and went through summer wrestling workouts.
As a freshman, he came in and he wrestled fairly well, Mohr said. He was around .500 (record-wise), and that’s pretty good for a freshman heavyweight. So we always knew he was pretty special in that regard.
Don’t think for the last two years that I haven’t been trying to get him, but he had it in his head that being bigger was better. He was pushing 320 his sophomore and junior year, and he couldn’t wrestle.
Holcomb’s return to wrestling was delayed a couple of weeks because of the success of the Snider football team, which advanced to the Class 5A state championship game with Holcomb getting All-SAC, All-Northeast Indiana and All-State honors at offensive tackle.
It feels right being back, Holcomb said. I was a little rusty at first, but around the second or third practice I was getting back into the swing of things. The biggest thing was getting my stamina back up to where it should be.
And Holcomb’s return has benefited him as well as his teammates.
He has been a leader ever since football ended, Mohr said. He didn’t take any time off, and it has paid off. He leads by example, and he is benefiting the ones around him. He doesn’t take any time off because he knows this is his last hurrah.
At that weight class that he is at, explosiveness and strength are huge things, and he’s got that. The moves are coming along as the season has gone on. That’s what some of the college (football) coaches have liked about him is his overall explosiveness. That’s ultimately why he wanted to get into the wrestling room, because he knew that would make him a better football player.
Holcomb said he still wants to play college football and has had interest from Findlay, Southern Illinois, Indianapolis and Saint Francis.
It has helped me develop as an athlete, Holcomb said of wrestling. Shedding a few of those extra pounds that I picked up and making me quicker and better stamina, that way I am not behind when I get to working again in the spring.
Tournaments, such as the SAC duals, will be new for Holcomb, who hopes to advance to the state finals.
If he puts in the time, the sky’s the limit, simply because he does have good footwork and because he is a load, Mohr said. Heavyweights come in all packages, but for the most part they are not that size. He’s got some tree trunks underneath him that are difficult to get a hold of to bring him down.