When Christopher Quast stepped off the wrestling mat for the final time as a member of the Belleville East Lancers in 1999, he thought his days of strapping on the headgear were over.
And for nearly 14 years and living in places like St. Louis, Africa, Arizona and New Mexico, it was
Then, while coaching at Ontario, Calif. High School late last year, Christopher Quast got the wrestling itch again.
At the age of 32.
"I wanted to see if I still had it,'' Quast said in a telephone interview. "I started wrestling when I was six years old with the Belleville Little Devils and then continued wrestling at Mascoutah and Belleville East high schools. It was a big part of my life growing up. But I never felt like I achieved what I was capable of achieving in the sport.
"Why did I come back? What this is all about is that I didn't want go through life wondering 'what if' or 'what could I have done?"
After placing second in the veterans (ages 27-32) Class A 167-pound division at the 2013 Las Vegas/ASICS U.S. Open last weekend, Quast again has a wrestling future.
Quast finished 2-2 in the competition. After winning his quarterfinal and semifinal round matches, Quast lost both matches in his final to place second.
"The championship matches were all best 2-out-of-3. I just remember the guy I wrestled in the finals was named Maurice and that both matches were very close,'' Quast said. "It was a great experience. I proved to myself that I still had it.
"Coaching at the high school level, we talk all the time to the kids of working hard and what you can achieve by going the extra mile. This wasn't easy for me. I weighed 183 pounds when I started training for this and I lost 20 pounds. It was painful and it was tough. But its been well worth the effort.''
Quast, who lives in Riverside, Calif. with his wife Jessica. Although a jack-of-all-trades, Quast owns and operates a custom drum shop and is also a part-time musician. He and his wife perform at different festivals throughout the southern California area.
Quast trained for the U.S. Open at Mount San Antonio College where he worked out with the wrestling team and during open workout nights twice a week.
Quast also said his second-place finish could also open some doors for his future.
"I never went to college and so I never used any eligibility up.'' Quast said. "The coach has told me that he thinks I can beat his 165-pound wrestler so I'm thinking about maybe taking 12 hours of classes and maybe pursuing a degree in physical education or kinesiology and continue to wrestle.''