On a Saturday night during the Christmas season, Seabreeze wrestler Matt Kohler and his friends, Steven Bartholomew and Riley Ouellette, bored with nothing to do, decided to attend a party on Riverside Drive, a narrow one-lane street, at one of their friend’s houses. After getting to the party around 10 p.m. and realizing that there were too many boys and not enough girls in attendance, the group chose to leave, giving their friend Billy Bedson a ride.
While driving, an animal ran in front of the car, and Bartholomew began to swerve toward a bush. Attempting to straighten out the SUV, he overcorrected and crashed into a solid brick mailbox, causing the jeep to tumble five times down a hill.
According to Kohler, everyone involved in the wreck left the scene uninjured.
“The paramedics told us that they’ve never seen a crash that bad without any injuries,” Kohler said. “Had we not been wearing seatbelts, we could have easily been killed.”
When the Explorer stopped tumbling, Kohler, with glass in his face and ears, assumed his would be bleeding profusely. To his surprise, he didn’t even have a scratch on his person.
“After we realized that everyone was OK, Riley and I look at the car and at each other, and we just began to laugh uncontrollably,” Kohler added. “We all felt bad for this kid, Billy (Bedson), who was only in the car for a minute. He probably thought we were insane.”
After walking away from a car crash unharmed, Kohler’s good fortune continued.
Since his freshman year, he’s struggled with nagging injuries that halted consistent success as a wrestler, but at this year’s Deltona King of the Ring Tournament, Kohler went 5-0 and won first place in his weight division his first time winning a tournament, beating his last competitor by six points.
“I was jumping for joy, and all my teammates ran over to congratulate me,” Kohler said. “It was a major confidence booster. Getting your hand raised is one of the best feelings in the world, but not getting it raised is, however, one of the worst.”
This past weekend, Kohler competed at the Flagler Duals, where he finished with a 7-2 record, losing to two state-ranked wrestlers.
“The nice thing about Matt is that he’s taken the initiative to become the leader in the wrestling room,” said Troy Lefford, the assistant coach. “The King of the Ring was really pleasant for us, though. We felt that he could possibly win it, and it was unfortunate — him at the Flagler Duals, but he only lost to high-ranked opponents.”
About the month, in which he walked away from a crash and won his first tournament, Kohler simply described it as “definitely an eventful month.”
Kohler and the Seabreeze Sandcrabs will wrestle in the Five Star Conference Feb. 7, at FPC.