Warriors Athlete of Week: Brainerd’s Dircks dominating the mat
Easton Dircks went 7-0 on the mat last week leading to him being named the Brainerd Warrior Athlete of the Week.
There’s been no sophomore slump for Easton Dircks.
Maybe because he’s still only in eighth grade.
Dircks is coming off a successful rookie campaign as a seventh-grader for the Brainerd Warriors wrestling teams. This season, the 113-pounder has only gotten better.
Dircks concluded a 7-0 week with three straight pins on his way to winning his weight class at the Skip Nalan Invitational Saturday, Jan. 22, in Grand Rapids.
“I was just looking to be aggressive and score as many points as I could,” Dircks said. “I just wanted to go in and be aggressive and not underestimate anybody.”
Dircks opened with a 3:57 pin of Jamestown’s Lucas Schlepuetz. He then planted Tate Evans of Deer River in 33 seconds. In the first-place match, Dircks downed Grand Rapids’ Alex Lehman in 5:05.
“It’s funny because Easton is at the point right now, in some of these matches, we’re asking him to work on things to improve his game,” Warrior head coach Mikkey White said. “He could go out there and get a pin right away. Instead of doing that we’re asking him to get some work in, which helps with his cardio. He’s also working on some things he wouldn’t be able to do with higher-level kids. That’s just him preparing for the end of the season.”
In the Long Prairie/Grey Eagle Triangular Jan. 21, Dircks pinned Connor Flan in 3:21 and received a forfeit victory against Foley.
“This sport means quite a bit to me. I don’t play any other sports. I just wrestle year-round."
Dircks’ pinning ways started early last week as he downed Fargo North’s Nathan Morken in 1:55 at the Moorhead Triangular Jan. 18. He then pinned Moorhead’s Theron Citrowske in 2:54.
“I think I’m quite a bit more confident this year,” Dircks said. “I’m having a good season so far and coming off a good season last year. I’ve gotten better on my feet and in the bottom position, but mostly on my feet. Doing a lot of freestyle and Greco wrestling in the offseason helped me a lot with improving.”
At the Rick Lee Duals, Jan. 13, in Bemidji, Dircks finished 6-0 with a forfeit, four pins and a decision.
“We’ve seen a huge improvement in his strength and his confidence,” White said. “Last year, Easton had a great season and won a lot of matches, but this year we’re just seeing him power through positions and scoring out of things that are requiring a little more strength. He does have a level of confidence we didn’t see right away. But coming in as a seventh-grader he was nervous. How could you not be wrestling varsity for the first time?”
Dircks owns a 26-1 record this season. His lone loss came at the Cambridge-Isanti Invite, where he fell in the championship round to Leo Edblad 1-0. Before that, he captured Invite titles at Wadena-Deer Creek and at the Paul Bunyan in Brainerd.
“He’s relentless,” White said. “He’s constantly moving forward and pressuring kids. With the number of reps he gets in between practice and the extra work he puts in, he’s comfortable in every single position everywhere. He’s constantly trying to improve, but it’s kind of like when you have a fast runner or swimmer. Their improvement ends up being smaller and smaller the faster they go. It’s the same thing with Easton right now. He’s gotten himself to where he’s at a very high level for an eighth-grader. His improvements now are pretty small little improvements in his game. That says a lot about how good of a wrestler he is.”
Last season he posted a 30-7 record and placed second in the Section 8-3A individual tournament to advance to the Super Section. His goal this year is to make it to the Xcel Energy Center for the state tournament. He hopes to wrestle in front of a packed house.
“My initial goal was to make it to state and hopefully place,” Dircks said. “I’ve gone to state for the last four or five years before COVID-19 hit. I went every year to watch. I think it would be crazy to wrestle down there. It’s such a big crowd and everyone is watching you.”
And Dircks is confident he can get there. But not only get there but make a statement. He also understands there are things he needs to work on and improve. According to his coach, Dircks knows how to put in the time to do that.
“He’s been wrestling forever and pretty much year-round,” White said. “He’ll do freestyle in the spring and summer and he’s constantly training. He does extra work during the season. He’ll go in on Sundays and get stuff done. The amount of hours and reps he puts in is what makes him so good.”
And Dircks wants to be really good.
“This sport means quite a bit to me,” Dircks said. “I don’t play any other sports. I just wrestle year-round. I started at a young age. I liked it and stuck with it.”
Other notable performances
Isaiah Germann, wrestling, finished 3-0 to win the 120-pound division of the Skip Nalan Tournament. Finished the week 6-1.
Gabe Wagner, wrestling, finished 3-0 to win the 145-pound division of the Skip Nalan Tournament. Finished the week 7-0.
Brenna Deason, gymnastics, scored a 9.35 to win the floor and placed second in the all-around at Anoka’s Tornado Tumble Invite.
Jed Klang, boys hockey, finished with 32 saves in a 3-0 victory over River Lakes and 38 saves in a 1-1 overtime tie with St. Cloud.
Mitch Degen, boys basketball, finished with 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds against St. Cloud Tech.
Tre’Von Otey, adapted floor hockey, tallied three goals and two assists against Maple Grove.
Owen Olson, adapted floor hockey, scored three goals against Maple Grove.
Annelise Baird, Nordic skiing, won the 5-kilometer classic Alexandria Invite in 19:15.7.
Favorite class: Math
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite website or app: Snapchat
Favorite restaurant: The Green Lantern Bar and Grill
Future plans: Hopes to attend and wrestle in college
Favorite athlete: Iowa Hawkeye wrestler Spencer Lee
Parents: Matt and Amy Dircks