It’s a rug to riches story.
Caleb Yost grew up wrestling with his brothers and father on the living room rug of their home. Now, as a high school senior, Yost has a legitimate chance to become the first wrestler in Kettle Run history to place at the state tournament.
He leads the Cougars with a 28-3 record at 126 pounds and he’ll try to begin a state-qualifying run Saturday in the Evergreen District tournament.
“He could do big things this postseason,” said David Yost, who is Caleb Yost’s older brother. “He definitely has the potential. I would love to see him in the region finals and the state finals.”
David Yost has unique perspective. Years ago, he wrestled with Caleb Yost on that family rug, and over the past few months he has sparred with his younger brother on the Kettle Run mats. David Yost, 22, has been a Cougars assistant coach since graduating this past summer from Virginia Military Institute, where he wrestled four seasons.
“Having him as a coach, it’s helped a lot,” Caleb Yost, 17, said. “We have a great relationship. When we get to work together, that’s when I get the most improvement.”
Yost was already a solid wrestler last season, when he and Wes Mirro became the first Kettle Run wrestlers in history to qualify for state. Yost went 1-2 at the Group AA state meet and did not place.
He approaches matches differently this season.
“He wrestles a lot more physical,” Kettle Run head coach Mike Foy said. “He likes to pound his opponent. … I think that’s going to put him over the top.”
Yost described his change as an increase in aggression.
After his junior season, Yost compared video of his matches to that of college wrestlers. The difference in aggression stood out to him.
“I just saw the success other people had with the aggressive mindset,” he said. “I was more timid.”
Wrestling aggressively has had a trickle-down effect. Yost now moves his opponents around more effectively, for example.
“My agility is better – the constant foot movements, shot fakes, keeping your opponents guessing,” he said. “I think the aggression leads into that.”
Yost has become formidable from every position, Foy said. When on top, he controls his opponents and limits their opportunities to score. He’s also solid on his feet and “explodes” when on bottom to score many of his points.
“Last year it was more kind of waiting for the opponent to do something,” Foy said.
Now the senior’s style is reminiscent of David Yost’s at VMI and Fauquier High, where he amassed the third-most wins in program history (181-30 record).
“We both wrestle with a little bit of a chip,” David Yost said. “I don’t know if he learned that from me or it’s just in our blood, but it reminded me of my high school career.”
“I do find myself using a lot of the same moves he used,” Caleb Yost said. “He helped form me into a better wrestler.”
Yost also credited his other first-years Kettle Run coaches, Foy and Dylan Carr. Coincidentally, they have relatives in the Cougars program, too. Foy’s son Jacob wrestles for the junior varsity squad while Carr, an assistant, is the cousin of varsity 132-pounder Collin Kratzer (16-15 record).
“I see that same connection with them,” Yost said. “I just think that’s cool, the three relationships.”
Kratzer and Yost are practice partners, but Kettle Run’s three coaches also get on the mats to help the Cougars train.
“We were three all-state wrestlers, so we can get in there and roll around with the boys and show them things,” Foy said. The relationships, “I thought it could cause problems … but it’s nice to coach someone you’re close to.”
Caleb Yost said he felt a bit of resentment for his brother when they wrestled in the past, but that faded when their coach-athlete dynamic began.
“If I’m pushing him, he [did] kind of take it a little bit personally, which might make him angry at me,” David Yost said.
“Now I really accept that he really knows more than I do,” Caleb Yost said. “I really try to take in everything he gives me.”
The Yost brothers sometimes stay after practice to do additional work with each other. They even occasionally collaborate on the rug at home. That’s where Caleb Yost first found an affinity for wrestling while scrambling around with David, as well as their father Erich and brother Jason, 20. Josh, 11, is the youngest Yost brother.
“We had plenty of wrestling, rough-housing and fighting around the house,” said David Yost, who will report to Oklahoma for Army training April 8.
Later this year, Caleb Yost hopes to follow in his brothers footsteps as a wrestler at VMI. He wants to join the team as a walk-on.
“I had a blast with him and watching him grow as a wrestler,” David Yost said. “I’m so proud.”
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Father Erich is a teacher at Kettle Run; mother Lisa is a Silpada jewelry salesperson; brother David, 22, wrestled at Fauquier High and Virginia Military Institute; brother Jason, 20, is a U.Va. graduate; brother Joshua is 11.
“I love long boarding, but not too much during season because I don’t want to get hurt. … A bunch of me and my friends go all over Warrenton and Gainesville looking for any hill we can find.”
Favorite music artist:
The Who. “I like classic rock. That’s [from] my dad.”
Favorite TV show:
“Wipeout.” “You can’t help but laugh.”
Favorite sports teams:
Washington Capitals and New York Yankees. “I’m glad hockey’s back in season. I love watching hockey. My entire family is Yankees fans. That was my Dad’s dad. He lived up near New York.”
“I just say a prayer before every match; ask God to help me do the best I can.”
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It’s just great action and great characters.
Liam Neeson. “He’s just a great actor and has great roles.”
Favorite wrestling moves:
Undertook series and low single.
Chipotle. “It’s just delicious.”
/ On Twitter @jeffmalmgren