Since his start of wrestling in the third grade, Casey Kotter has shown his dedication and hard work to the sport. Portland State’s 125-pound sophomore is making an impression on teammates and coaches. Improving all the time, Kotter is 5-3 for the month of January and is 3-3 in the Pac-10 Conference.
“I’d take as many of him … as I could get,” PSU head coach Marlin Grahn said.
Kotter was a two-time 4A-State Champion for La Grande High School in 1998 and 1999, as well as a two-time Tri-State Champion. In his four years as varsity for La Grande, Casey also earned All-American honors.
In 1997, Casey ended his sophomore season at the high school state tournament, placing third. Two seasons later, along with a second State Championship, Kotter helped his high school team finish fourth at state. In the same season he finished second at the Reno tournament of Champions.
Apart from his excellence in wrestling, Kotter is also an exceptional student. As a National Honor Society member in high school, he chose to come to Portland State to major in business with an emphasis in finance. When he first came to PSU he wanted to do something in accounting, but now puts his emphasis toward the finance field.
“He was just an all around good student,” former high school head coach Verl Miller said.
Wrestling, as well as school, is important to Casey’s parents (Kim and DeWayne) and sisters (Lindsay and Corinne), who try to support their grappler as much as they can.
“Being from La Grande it’s hard for them to get to a lot of the matches though” Kotter said.
His parents encouraged his participation in athletics. He saw that his friends were having fun in USA wrestling and wanted to give it a try. And try he did, winning State Freestyle four times and once for State Greco.
“It was a good place my parents could send me after school,” Kotter explained.
Kotter continued the sport into high school where Miller helped mold him. Miller, a one-time teammate of Grahn, coached Kotter through his junior season before retiring.
“Casey is a hard-working kid and a leader. He led by example and hard work,” Miller said. “His teammates tried to keep up with his hard work ethic.”
Casey’s decision to attend PSU and become a Viking was helped by a number of things. The scholarship was certainly a big one, Kotter explained. He also knew he had a good shot at making varsity at 125 pounds as a sophomore. The fact that Coach Miller knew Coach Grahn played a role as well. Miller’s successor, coach Kelly Edvalson, was a former Viking wrestler himself.
“I think coach Edvalson had a lot of influence with Casey going to PSU,” Miller said. “They were really close.”
As a small 125-pounder, making weight isn’t something Kotter struggles with.
“He’s getting used to his weight class and has been working hard in the weight room,” Grahn said.
Kotter hopes to continue his success into the next month and into the Pac-10 Championships. He knows he has a good shot at placing high in the Pac-10 tournament and qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
“Casey’s been wrestling great and is steadily getting better,” Grahn said. “He’s done well all year for us and continues doing everything he can for us. We expect great things for him in his final years.”