Male Area Athlete of the Week: John Paul Fitzpatrick looks to claim a state title as top seed
John Paul Fitzpatrick the No. 1 seed in the state championships at 138 pounds.
Wrestling runs in the Fitzpatrick family.
Crosby-Ironton sophomore John Paul Fitzpatrick is adding to the family legacy after he went 3-0 without allowing a point in the state prelims of Sections 7-2A and 8-2A to earn the top seed in the state championships at 138 pounds.
Fitzpatrick started the state prelims with a one minute and 18 second pin of Crookston’s Braxton Volker. He followed it up with a 4-0 decision of Fooston-Bagley’s Keegan Senger.
He then narrowly defeated Sawyer Simmons of Royalton/Upsala in the finals with a 2-0 decision to get into the state championships.
“It was a mental game as well as a physical one,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just didn’t let anything get to my head and focus on one match.”
What stood out to Rangers head coach Brian Wood on Fitzpatrick’s state prelim performance was he didn’t let his opponents get points.
“He’s going to control the match and do what it takes to win,” Wood said. “Whether it’s on his feet, on top, getting that initial takedown. He’s really focused on what it takes to be excellent at wrestling.”
Fitzpatrick’s performance at the state prelims vaulted his record to 38-1. He opens the state championships against Tucker Wills of Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial.
Although Fitzpatrick is the top-seeded wrestler for the state championships, he is the second-ranked wrestler for his weight class.
With the help of Wood, Fitzpatrick doesn’t focus on where he is in the rankings.
“Having people around you that help support you and that environment helps,” Fitzpatrick said. “It helps me stay at that level.”
In the state finals, he could face top-ranked Kad Sammons of Windom/Mountain Lake who is a senior and 31-2.
“I’m just taking it one match at a time and not looking at any of my opponents,” Fitzpatrick said. “It should be a lot of fun and give it everything I got. I’ve trained for this all year.”
John Paul isn’t the only Fitzpatrick headed to the state championships as his older brother and senior Michael Fitzpatrick also made it at 182 pounds.
Michael Fitzpatrick got second at state prelims after pinning Aidan Olson in 3:54 to reach the championships.
“It’s good to see that the more success the younger brother has the more success Michael has,” Wood said. “They tend to push each other to stay on top.”
Both Fitzpatricks went to state in 2020 as well. John Paul Fitzpatrick notched a third-place finish at 126 pounds and finished with a 40-13 record. Michael Fitzpatrick lost both of his state matches at 170 pounds.
“It’s been cool,” John Paul Fitzpatrick said. “This is the second time we are both going to state now and it’s pretty exciting. I look up to him every day.”
Wood has noticed John Paul Fitzpatrick becoming more and more serious about wrestling this year.
“He’s a farm kid so he’s always working when wrestling is done with his dad,” Wood said. “This year he told me he’s going to hit up Freestyle and Greco and that will help him take the next step.”
Wood also mentioned that John Paul Fitzpatrick has added more moves to his arsenal this season.
“As the year’s gone on we’ve tried to open up his range of moves,” Wood said. “Even though he is good at a few things, we want him to be good at everything. You know he’s doubling his workout time, coming in early and understands that he has to put in more work in competition to stay on top.”
Fitzpatrick felt like he’s been on top of his game all season in practice. He’s been able to stick with his coaches in practice most challenges that get thrown his way.
His favorite thing about wrestling is the environment.
When John Paul Fitzpatrick is on top, he loves to use the cradle to pin his opponent.
“That’s my go-to move,” he said.
John Paul Fitzpatrick is a three-sport athlete. He’s in track and field as well as boys soccer for Lake Region Christian School. His favorite by far is wrestling.
“Wrestling has been in my family for a while,” John Paul Fitzpatrick said. “My dad used to wrestle, my dad’s dad, and I grew up with them talking about it. I just grew into it which has always made it fun.”
Other notable performances:
Wrestling: 11 area wrestling qualify for the state championships.
Basketball: Max Strickland, Staples-Motley, scored 22 points against Menahga.
Jonah Prokott, Pierz, scored 25 points against Virginia.
Griffin Decker, Pillager, scored 27 points against Two Harbors.
Hunter Nissen, Aitkn, scored 25 points against Crosby-Ironton.
Dietrich Winegarner, Crosby-Ironton, scored 21 points against Aitkin.
Brandon Greenwaldt, Verndale, scored 21 points against Sebeka.
Sivert Klefsaas, Staples-Motley, scored 23 points against Fergus Falls.
Carsen Turk, Crosby-Ironton, scored 23 points against Duluth Marshall.
Hockey: Nicholas Stevenson, Little Falls, collected six points against Prairie Centre.
John Paul Fitzpatrick
Position: 138 pounds
Highlights: Finished 3-0 in state prelims to earn top seed in state championships.