Rose Hill, Kan. -
Almost five months ago, Derby's Garrett Xanders sat out the rest of the Panthers' state-championship football season with a torn ACL.
Not knowing what the rest of the 2015-16 school year would hold for him, Xanders began rehab in hopes of making a sports comeback.
After a rigorous rehabilitation period, the defending state-champion wrestler competed for the first time on Friday at the Rose Hill Invitational.
The 152-pound wrestler came away with a pin in his first match and officially started his season.
"It felt great finally being back out on the mat with my team," Xanders said. "I've been there the whole year because I haven't been able to contribute team point wise, but it feels great to be here."
The Derby wrestler is competing with a knee brace that he's worn for two months, but said it isn't hampering his mobility.
"Knee wise, everything feels natural," Xanders said. "I've just got to get into shape. I haven't been out there wrestling full matches all season like everyone else has, but I'll be there eventually."
With the ultimate goal of repeating as state champion, the Panther wrestler said the work for that achievement is still to come.
"Coach Ross will be pushing me to make sure I'm in shape for them," Xanders said. "After that it's up to me to wrestle my best. I feel pretty good about that."