Parents of former wrestler involved with current team
Scott Underwood distinctly remembers that somber autumn day in 1993.
He remembers what he was wearing, where he was sitting in a Tonganoxie classroom and who his teacher was when he heard the unbelievable -- a relative, Randy Starcher, had been killed in a vehicle accident.
Like accounts people give of where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated or when the Challenger exploded, this was a distinct day in Underwood's life.
A freshman at Tonganoxie High School at the time, Underwood never got the chance to wrestle alongside Starcher as a Chieftain. Roughly a month later, Underwood started high school wrestling without his cousin, with whom he had wrestled in his younger years.
That makes the Tonganoxie Invitational, which became the Randy Starcher Memorial Invitational in 1994, special, according to Underwood.
"Big time," said Underwood, describing the tourney.
For Underwood, Starcher's death eventually made him stronger.
"There was motivation there, especially when I won the tournament," Underwood said.
That tournament was the 1997 Randy Starcher Invitational. Underwood, a THS senior, captured his first Tonganoxie tournament title that day.
Following Chieftain wrestling
If one attends this year's tournament on Saturday at THS, they likely will see Don and Margie Starcher, Randy's parents, involved in some capacity.
"We try to basically offer our services through whatever is needed," Don said.
Since that first tournament after Randy's death, the Starchers have assisted at the annual invitational.
"It was so important to me that I helped the wrestling team and Randy's classmates continue on and I felt that I had to be there for them," Margie said, referring to that first invitational. "But it was like that for the first year, then later on it was harder to go. I don't know why that happened."
In Don's case, the first tournament also was difficult to attend.
"It was definitely a challenge to be there," he said.
During one of those years, the couple supplied Chieftain wrestlers with new warm-ups -- gear that included Randy's initials, RAS, on the tops.
According to Don, Randy was passionate about wrestling, as well as any other activity he participated in.
"He pretty much gave his all to everything," Don said.
Randy, in addition to wrestling played football at THS, also was involved in rodeos.
Whether he was wrestling another human or a four-legged animal, Randy went at full speed.
Ross Starcher takes center-stage these days, but he has followed in the footsteps of many other family members in world of wrestling.
His brother, Chad, just finished his career at THS last winter.
Darryl, who is Don's brother and Ross and Chad's father, wrestled at THS, as did another brother, Gary. Steve Myers, who is Margie's brother, grappled at Tonganoxie.
Don and Margie's other son, Lennie, who graduated from THS in 1993, also wrestled. And a cousin, Mike Starcher, wrestled.
The sport certainly is in this family's blood.
Ross, however, will be the last Starcher to wrestle in the tournament for some time.
That could be bittersweet, but Margie said they'll still be supporting Chieftain wrestling after Ross finishes up in February.
"I guess it will be a little bit different, but we're such a small town and it's so easy to get to know the kids that are wrestling," Margie said.
But wait, there is another Starcher coming up through the Tonganoxie school district.
Patterson Starcher, who is Lennie's son, is 5.
Although he is not in wrestling yet, his grandfather thinks he will be.
"He hasn't started yet, but he is definitely interested in it," Don said.
As for his grandmother, Margie isn't sure what he'll choose.
"We might see another wrestler, we might see another basketball player or a baseball player," Margie said. "And I think that's one thing, that Randy wrestled and had fun. He loved it. He also was in FFA and he loved his church group.
"For me the enjoyment is seeing the Starcher family doing things they love."