Tiny but mighty: David Rivera-Kohr’s hunger, drive have shot him to the top

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Senior David Rivera-Kohr is a four-year All-Conference wrestler, has the most wins in ETHS history and recently earned the title of All-American, but still refuses to be satisfied.

David’s wrestling career began in sixth grade, where he attended Saunders Middle School in Virginia. He then moved to Evanston, starting at Chute Middle School in seventh grade and joining the Evanston School of Wrestling.

“The most profound memory that comes to my mind from the early days was wrestling with Angel Sierra, an Evanston alum and assistant coach, for the first time,” David says. “He saw my potential early on and took me under his wing.”

Sierra was a captain and All-Conference champion in his time at ETHS, and has been one of David’s biggest motivators, still staying in close touch and often working out with him.

“I see myself as a big brother,” Sierra says. “He reminded me of myself as a kid, having a lot of potential and heart, and early on I knew that this kid could become the next big thing in Evanston.”

David proceeded to do just that, being a four year All-Conference varsity wrestler, two time All-Conference champion (including this year), and last year equaled the youngest State qualifier that Evanston wrestling has ever had. On top of all that he recently broke the all time ETHS win record of 136, currently with 152 total wins, and became an All-American last summer.

This year has been a continuation of his success. As far as stats go, David leads the team in tech falls, takedowns, two point near falls, three point near falls, and major decisions. He also added a second State qualification to the list, taking third at Sectionals.

He won his first match at State, taking him to the quarterfinals. In that match he put himself in a tough position down 3-0 and got pinned, losing the match. At that point it was double elimination, so he had another chance, and fought hard but lost a close match to end his high school career.

“He’s always needed more to keep him hungry and satisfied,” says coach Rudy Salinas. “He has literally set a new goal every year he was here, the ultimate goal still being wanting to be a State Champion.”

David’s mother, Elisa Kohr, could not be more proud of him. “He’s an overachiever,” she says. “His coaches are extremely supportive because they know and they see how hard he works and how much time he puts in,” she adds. “He’s had so many accomplishments in art, music, sports, and mostly academics, is obsessed with watching wrestling videos (oftentimes his own film) and has a photographic memory. He’s a pretty amazing kid.”

With as much success as David has had, it’d be easy for him to get cocky and become self-centered, but instead he has done the opposite and become a leader people rally behind.

“He’s led by example,” Salinas says. “For many years he’s spent a lot of his time giving back to the youth program, our feeder program, and doing community service, so he’s been a model athlete for all levels.”

Promising freshman Dylan Kull has already been very successful in his varsity career, and says that he looks up to David and along with a lot of his teammates. “He is the type of wrestler I aspire to be and I’m sure many of the other guys feel the same way,” Kull says. “Watching him succeed has motivated me to work to become the best wrestler I can be.”

The next thing on David’s plate is college, and that is already almost figured out.

“I’ve made a verbal commitment to Princeton,” David says. “Ivies don’t have a Signing Day or anything like that but my commitment will be official once admissions decides to admit me, which is all but guaranteed since they used a likely letter on me.” A likely letter is a letter from the head coach to admissions saying that they want David on the team, boosting his chances of getting in exponentially.

With college set in place, David has had a little bit of time to think about his post-college future and what that may hold, and he has worked hard enough in both academics and athletics that many possibilities are open to him.

“I plan on majoring in biochemistry so I probably want to go into a profession somewhere along those lines,” David says. “But there are also wrestling opportunities after college to enter the international circuit. It’s hard to project myself that far in the future, but that’s definitely a possibility.”

All things considered, David Rivera-Kohr is very likely the best all-around wrestler that Evanston has ever seen.