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WARRIORS ATHLETE OF WEEK: Wrestler almost didn't reach 100-win milestone

Luke Boran has been wrestling for most of his life, but as a junior he had second thoughts about continuing to compete in one of the most gruelling sports.

“I was just kind of burned out,” he said. “I had been wrestling so long, it just got tough. I had to take a little time where I wasn’t competing. Then I realized it was something I wanted to do so I got back into it.”

Had Boran not returned last season, he likely wouldn’t have joined an elite group of Brainerd Warriors this year. On Jan. 24, he registered the 100th win of his career by pinning Rocori’s Mitchell Schwinghammer in 1:49. Boran became the 12th Warrior to win 100 matches, joining a club that includes 2-time state champions Andy Pickar and Jim Caughey.

“It means a lot. It’s hard to describe,” said Boran, who raised his season record to 20-5 and career record to 100-45. “When you’ve been wrestling your whole life — it’s always been a goal for me. To finally reach it is kind of amazing. All those really good wrestlers have gotten there and it’s weird to see my name with them.”

Warriors co-head coach Jim Kath said a wrestler who possesses the qualities that Boran does deserves to have 100 wins.

“He’s a great kid,” Kath said. “He has a fantastic work ethic. He leads very much by example in the wrestling room and on the mat. He’s struggled with making it to state as an eighth-grader and not making it since then. To get to 100 wins is a testament to his perseverance.”

Boran hopes his perseverance pays off in March. When he qualified for state as an eighth-grader, he might have presumed it was the start of an annual tradition. It has been far from the case. Boran finished third in the section at 112 pounds as a freshman and third at 130 as a sophomore. Last year, he lost by injury default in the 145-pound semifinals.

“It’s been really frustrating,” Boran said of his state drought. “I got hurt a few times, so that put me back. My sophomore and junior years I was in some pretty tough section matches. It’s been tough, but I didn’t get too down about it.”

Luke’s father, Warriors co-head coach Mike Boran, agreed it’s been a frustrating experience for his son to have only one state tournament on his resume.

“But he’s had good seasons through the years,” Mike Boran said. “He’s been in some tough weight classes at the section tournament. That’s how it works out sometimes, but he’s put a lot of wins together, and that’s kind of what we’re looking for.”

Father and son haven’t always seen eye to eye in their coach/athlete relationship, but for the most part both said it’s been a positive experience.

“Sometimes, we’ve butted heads,” Luke said. “We’ve had our disagreements, but he’s been supportive of me and my choices. It’s been a pretty good experience.”

Mike Boran called their relationship “interesting.”

“I don’t know if you would call it an understanding or that we’ve just figured each other out, but this year has been real positive,” Mike Boran said. “Luke’s grown into a good leader. He’s always been a hard-worker, a leader in the practice room. He’s having a good senior year.”

When Luke wrestles, Mike often steps aside to watch as a parent would.

“I’ve kind of backed off the coaching part and watched him,” Mike said. “I stay back and let Jim coach him. He and Jim have a good relationship so it works out pretty well.”

Luke said Kath has been a big part of his wrestling life.

“He’s kind of like my second dad in wrestling,” he said. “He’s always been there for me, coaching me.”

Other notable efforts:

■ Cole Smith, boys hockey, collected two goals and two assists against Tech and a hat trick against Willmar.

■ Jack Sauer, boys basketball, scored 22 points against Rogers.

■ Marcus Comstock, boys basketball, scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Rogers.

■ Zean Baker, Nordic skiing, won the boys pursuit title at the Bemidji Invite.

■ Jacob Blong, boys basketball, had 20 points and eight rebounds against Sartell.

MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at