For once the No. 13 was a lucky number.

And the luck was on Braden Kramer's side.

The Brainerd Warriors' 152-pound wrestler was seeded 13th for the Class 3A State Individual Tournament March 1-2 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

This after Kramer won the Section 8-3A Individual title with a 7-5 victory over Bemidji's Chance Hinrichs in the championship match. It was Kramer's second-straight victory over Hinrichs, but it wasn't enough for Kramer to get seeded ahead of Hinrichs, who collected the No. 8 seed.

That didn't stop Kramer from finishing sixth and achieving his goal of earning a medal.

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Braden Kramer

  • Sport: Wrestling
  • Position:152 pounds
  • Year: Senior
  • Age: 18
  • Height: 5-foot-8
  • Career highlight: Winning the Section 8-3A 152-pound title
  • Other sports: Football
  • Grade-point average: 3.97
  • Favorite class: Pre-calculus
  • Favorite food: Ice cream
  • Favorite movie: "Creed 2"
  • Favorite website or app: Instagram
  • Favorite restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Future plans: Attend college
  • Favorite athlete: Olympic wrestler Kyle Schneider
  • Parents: Brent and Sherry Kramer

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"It was one of those things, you win the section title and you see the brackets come out for the state tournament and you drew the fourth seed right away and it's like, hmm," Kramer said. "You don't really know what to expect and it kind of irritates you a little bit. You're a senior and you've been around the sport a lot, but ultimately it motivated me. It just prepared me to go into the state tournament. I had nothing to lose."

Kramer didn't lose Friday, March 1. The senior opened against No. 4 seeded Roman Rogotzke of East Ridge. Kramer defeated him 9-8.

"We watched him wrestle in the team tournament and he's a younger sophomore, but he's been around a lot," Kramer said. "He's very funky and he wrestles a very different style. He's just a really bizarre wrestler. Nobody does what he does. It was crazy, but it was fun. He's a wrestler you don't see around here.

"I just wanted to stick with my gameplan and do the little things correctly and the rest took care of itself."

Kramer then defeated Minneapolis South's Brian Avre 10-8 to advance to the championship semifinals.

It was during the Avre victory, however, where a little of Kramer's Luke diminished.

"I hurt my toe in my quarterfinal match on Friday, toward the end of my match," Kramer said. "I'm in a boot right now for about a month. We weren't trying to make a big deal about it because what can you do? I'm a senior. This is my last chance. I just had to toughen it out. I felt like I did as much as I could, but I definitely think I could have wrestled that semifinal match better and tougher than I did."

In Saturday's semifinal, Kramer fell to eventual state champion and No. 1 seeded Willie Bastyr of Lakeville South 7-5. It was a match Warrior head coach Mikky White said showed how good Kramer is.

"He's really hard to score on," White said. "He keeps good position everywhere. That's why he can wrestle with anybody. You look at his match against the Lakeville South guy, the eventual state champ, and he went 7-5. That just proves how, with his positioning that he keeps on the mat, it makes him hard to score on.

"He doesn't get out of position and he can score off other people's mistakes pretty consistently. He does a good job of stopping people's shots and then scoring off that. That's been a big part of a lot of his wins."

Kramer said losing that semifinal match was hard to bounce back from. Being injured didn't help.

Kramer fell into the wrestlebacks, or consolation bracket, and lost to No. 3 seeded Tate Torgerson of Cambridge 12-3. That pushed Kramer into the fifth-place match where he suffered a 5-3 loss to Apple Valley's Dylan Anderson.

"It was hard knowing the last time I will ever wrestle a high school match, I didn't win," Kramer said. "I didn't get to walk off the mat with my hand raised. But the ultimate goal was to get down there and place. Whatever happened after that was OK. I just accepted that fact. My goal was to place and I did that."

Kramer finished his senior year with a 38-11 record and a sixth-place showing. Just as important, Kramer was a cornerstone of a successful Warrior season, too.

Brainerd finished 19-11, second in the conference and won the Paul Bunyan Tournament.

"We could rely on him and that was the biggest thing," White said. "We knew he would go out and win big matches for us. When you got that, and this goes for all four guys that went down to state, almost every single dual you can expect four wins out of those guys.

"It's really nice to rely on for sure just getting wins. Especially in close duals when the team that gets eight wins will likely win, it's nice to have four for sure."

Along with being reliable on the mat, Kramer was the ideal leader off it, White said.

"We had somebody that was having some difficulty this year and he quit," White said. "Braden, without any guidance from the coaches, caught that kid out. Had a conversation with him and got him to come back out and wrestle. That shows a lot of maturity as a person, but for an 18-year-old and a leader on our wrestling team, that was something I was really proud to hear that about him. That just shows the kind of kid he is. He just does the things you're supposed to do."

 

Other notable performances

• Joey Sauer, basketball, finished with 27 points and eight rebounds against Bemidji and 28 points against Moorhead to reach 1,000 for his career.

• Ben Staehling, basketball, finished with 28 points against Sartell.

• Tristan Dawson, swimming, finished 14th in the 100-yard backstroke at the Class 2A State Finals.

• Spencer Thompson, floor hockey, scored three goals against Mounds View.

• Karlee Schuler, floor hockey, scored three goals against Mounds View.