Steve Ruppert has ended a fabulous athletic career at Reed City after having set various school records.

But take away one split second in which Ruppert found himself in an unusual spot, he could have been celebrating a state crown.

Ruppert was third at 135 pounds in the Division 3 tourney March 4-6 at The Palace of Auburn Hills and finished the season at 58-2. He was seventh at state a year ago.

Ruppert started out impressively with wins over Zacharias Tate of South Haven on a technical fall, 18-3 and had a major decision over Pat Baruh of Richmond 16-5.

But Ruppert’s hopes for a state title ended in the semifinals when he was pinned in 4:23 by John Wiggers of Fremont. He came back with victories over Brandon Treharnd of Dundee, 7-2 and over Derek Camillieri of Midland Bullock Creek 8-2 to take third place.

It’s the first time in his entire wrestling life Ruppert had ever been pinned. But winning two matches after getting pinned was satisfying.

“I had my hopes set on a state championship,” he said. “But bouncing back, keeping it together and taking third makes me feel a lot better.”

Ruppert went for a shot when he was taken down.

“We had too much momentum, I got rolled over and stuck in a move that I wasn’t able to get out of,” he said. “When it first happened, I was shocked. I sat the first couple of seconds. I got up, shook his hand and knew I had to get prepared for the next day.”

Ruppert set new school records with 220-career wins and 543 career takedowns. His 220-18 record is the school’s best lifetime record.

After running track in recent years, Ruppert is taking the spring off. As for wrestling, “I plan on wrestling in college,” he said. “I’m thinking about going to Central (Michigan) but I’m thinking somewhere else for the first year and then transferring there.”

Looking back, “I’m pretty happy with the season I had,” he said. “I was up in the match I lost (at the state finals).”