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Warrior Athlete of the Week: Babineau takes care of nemeses in section

Dan Babineau disposed of a few nemeses this season.

Babineau lost to Connor Scherping of Little Falls twice during the regular season, and had lost in previous years to Austin Walz of Sauk Rapids.

He beat both last weekend on his way to the 132-pound championship in the Section 8-2A tournament.

The Brainerd junior outscored Scherping 12-9 in the title match.

“He beat me in the Paul Bunyan in overtime, and at the Cambridge tournament 9-8,” Babineau said. “It always seems like I score points on him early, but he creeps back on me and it becomes a grudge match in the third period. I ended up pulling it out.”

In the section semifinals, Babineau edged Walz 4-2 in overtime.

“He’s always tough, he always stays in good position,” Babineau said. “I beat him early in the year 4-0. I always had tough matches with him last year. He beat me in team sections and I ended up beating him in individuals.

“I knew he would be tough going into (the semifinals), and it ended up going to overtime. Thankfully, I got the first takedown.”

Babineau pinned Zach Motschke of Sartell at 1:37 in his section opener.

“It actually surprised me that I pinned him that quick,” Babineau said. “I beat him like 6-1 earlier in the year, so I went all three periods with him.”

Expectations were high for Babineau, a four-year varsity wrestler. He won two of four matches at state in 2010-11 at 119 pounds.

“Going into the season I think that gave him a lot of confidence, a lot of momentum and drive,” Warriors co-head coach Mike Boran said. “Dan worked hard and wrestled hard all season. He found a weight class where he was comfortable, not trying to lose much weight and trying to stay strong.

“As the season went on, he’s gotten better and better. He’s really turned it on in the last month. He had a great section tournament.”

Babineau, who won his first varsity tournament at Elk River Jan. 21, is looking forward to returning to state Friday and Saturday.

“It definitely helped me a ton,” Babineau said of last year’s state experience. “I went in there with the mind-set that I’ve got nothing to lose, that others have more pressure on them than I do because I wasn’t expected to make the state tournament.

“I’m going in this year with the same mind-set. I’ve got nothing to lose. Just go out, wrestle smart, wrestle hard.”

Babineau was one round away from placing in the top six at state last year.

“He needed one more win in the wrestlebacks to get a medal,” Boran said. “He had a pretty successful tournament in his trip down there.”

Babineau (28-8) opens Friday against Phillip Horsager (13-7) of Spring Lake Park.

“He’s going into the tournament with a lot of confidence,” Boran said. “We think he got a good draw to win some matches and get on the podium.”

Wrestling up two weight classes hasn’t seemed to have an adverse effect on Babineau, who prides himself in strength on his feet, getting takedowns and making swift moves.

“It hasn’t been a whole lot of difference,” he said. “Most kids I wrestled last year have progressed to the same weight as me. Now I can use more of my strength and wrestle my kind of style a little bit more.”