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Warrior Athlete of the Week: Fourth time the charm for Rubin

Losing to Moorhead’s AJ Wheeler three times this season Brainerd’s Levi Rubin faced seemingly insurmountable odds when he met the ninth-ranked Wheeler in the Section 8-3A finals last weekend.

The fourth meeting between the two was another epic struggle. The only point scored was an escape by Rubin early in the third period. He made the point stand up to capture the 170-pound section championship.

“I knew it would be a tough match,” Rubin said. “All my losses to him were in overtime.

“At the end, he was taking shots, and I would defend it, then I would take a shot. It was pretty intense at the end. I was trying to hold him off. If he would have scored he would have won the match, obviously.”

Warriors co-head coach Jim Kath said the title “was a nice deal for Levi. He got the monkey off his back a little bit there.”

After receiving a bye in the opening round, Rubin pinned Sartell’s Jed Anderson in 55 seconds in the semifinals.

“I knew (Anderson) was not a very strong wrestler,” Rubin said, “so I figured I would go out there and pin him and not waste any energy for the finals.”

The four-year varsity wrestler won the Elk River tournament during the regular season and finished third in two others.

“Levi’s been a solid wrestler for us all year,” Kath said. “All his losses were to top-quality kids.

“He lost to (top-ranked 160-pounder) Taylor Lewandowski of Foley (38-1) in the Paul Bunyan, and Cole Bakke from Cambridge. He’s done a nice job this season. He’s peaking at the right time.”

Rubin carries a 26-8 record into the 3A state tournament Friday and Saturday. In his first trip to state, he will open against Jonathan Wirkkala of Buffalo (16-22).

“You don’t want to overlook your first match,” Rubin said. “State is a whole different atmosphere. I just have to go out there and wrestle the best I’ve ever wrestled, even though he has a losing record. Hopefully I can go out there and get a pin.”

Joining Rubin at state are teammates Dan Babineau (130), Jace Engelmann (182) and Casey Biever (195).

“We’re all pretty good friends, that’s really cool,” Rubin said. “We’re all juniors. We’ve been wrestling together forever.”

Rubin wrestled at 160 last year, but likes the move to 170.

“I don’t have to watch my weight as much,” he said, “but I don’t think there’s been too much of a difference.”

Other notable efforts:

•Josh McKeag, swimming, set a school record in the 100 butterfly and qualified for state in four events.

•Sam Dellacecca and Justin Warling, swimming, each qualified for state in three events.

• Seth Murrey, Luke Jacobsen, Joe Wells, Tyler Schneider, Chase Wickman and Justin Kuglin, swimming and diving, qualified for the state meet.

• Jace Engelmann and Casey Biever, wrestling, were section runners-up and qualified for state.

• Mitch McLain, boys hockey, broke the program record for goals in a single season by scoring his 36th.

• Gretchen Kletscher, girls basketball, scored 25 points against Sartell.