Student-athletes in Severna Park often garner accolades and recognition for their standout statistical performances, dominance on the playing field and career milestones.
But what about the kid who works hard, is a great teammate, loves what he does and makes the most of his opportunities?
That’s Severna Park wrestler William Toepper.
Toepper began wrestling four years ago as a freshman, and he made Severna Park’s varsity roster for the first time this year as a senior. He’s never been the star of the team, but he stuck with the program because he just likes to wrestle.
“It’s a fun sport,” said Toepper, who won the spirit award with the JV team in his first year and was one of several wrestlers honored at the Falcons’ senior night against South River on January 30. “It’s made more fun by the people on the team with me.”
While he’s in it for the fun and camaraderie, Toepper also practices seriously and has always stayed ready in case his name was called. He got his shot on January 24, when he was inserted into the lineup as the Falcons’ heavyweight for their away dual with Northeast.
The Falcons held a 36-34 lead over the Eagles when the heavyweight matchup, the final bout of the night, arrived. Toepper squared off against Northeast’s Matt Wukitch, a top lineman and accomplished athlete for Northeast’s football team. In his first varsity match, Toepper had to win to secure a team victory for the Falcons. He got out of an early throw and worked from the bottom position before rolling Wukitch over and pinning him.
His teammates and the Severna Park wrestling families went crazy in celebration as Toepper sealed the Falcons’ victory.
“It’s surreal,” Toepper said. “I just saw myself as another part of the team. Being the guy that brings home dinner feels nice.”
He improved his career varsity record to 2-0 just two days later, winning against his opponent from Howard High School.
Perhaps his preparation and readiness should come as no surprise; Toepper has had perfect attendance in school for the past 13 years, including all four of his years at Severna Park High School, during which he has made the honor multiple times. His mother and father, Jo-Marie and Michael Toepper, both educators, and his sister, Grace, a freshman at South River, were happy to see him earn a spot in the lineup and make his mark, especially after having been a consummate teammate for years.
“Seeing him feel good about his perseverance and team sportsmanship has been rewarding,” said Jo-Marie.
After high school, Toepper is considering serving his country in the military, perhaps in the Coast Guard, but first he plans to serve his community as a volunteer firefighter and begin his firefighter and EMT training at the Arnold Volunteer Fire Department when he turns 18.
He said wrestling has prepared him for life by making him resilient.
“It makes you tougher,” Toepper said. “You learn to take stuff that you wouldn’t learn to if you did, say, basketball. In basketball, you run for a bit, then you stop and someone takes your place. In wrestling, it’s just six minutes of hell.”
He added that anyone who’s considering a winter sport upon entering high school should keep wrestling in mind, especially at Severna Park, where he and his program have always embraced each other.
“Give wrestling a try,” he said. “If you don’t like it, nobody’s going to judge you.”