Warriors Athlete of Week: Dircks ends year with a win and 5th at state
Easton Dircks finished fifth in the Class 3A State Individual Wrestling Tournament.
BRAINERD -- Every time Easton Dircks steps on a mat, he expects, as do most people, he’ll record a win.
In 44 of the 49 matches the Brainerd Warriors freshman competed, that was the case and it included the last match of the season, where Dircks scored a 6-3 victory over Willmar’s Sulley Anez to finish fifth in the 132-pound bracket of the Class 3A State Individual Tournament Saturday, March 4, at Xcel Energy Center.
Brainerd head coach Mikkey White talked about those winning expectations of his three-year varsity veteran.
“It’s nice having someone like Easton on your team where you can rely on him,” White said. “You just know. Not only is he going to win his matches, but he’s going to score lots of points for the team. More importantly, you know he’s going to be the kid that will be at every single practice. He’s going to be the one who is working the hardest. Those types of things are what help a program when you have kids like that. He’s just going to bring other kids along and make the entire program better.”
Dircks opened his second state tournament appearance with a 3:12 pin over Lakeville North’s Hunter Fien. That bumped into the quarterfinals where he suffered a 5-4 loss to Edina’s Landon Nebel.
The loss dropped Dircks into the wrestlebacks where he needed to defeat Stillwater’s Sam Bethke to advance. Dircks regrouped and scored a 4-3 victory to move into Saturday’s action.
I was just focusing on getting stronger and working on technique and not worrying as much about my weight and focusing on strength.
“It was pretty tough coming off that loss,” Dircks said. “I was hoping to win that. I just went off and found my own space and gathered myself and just got ready for the next match. There really wasn’t much else I could do.
“I just went out on my feet kind of lethargic and not really wrestling how I should have been. I wasn’t very aggressive and I feel like if I can come out more aggressive next time and not worry about who it is and just wrestle, I could do a lot better.”
Dircks opened Saturday’s wrestling with a 9-3 victory over Owatonna’s Trey Hiatt to set up a match with Forest Lake’s Parker Lyden, who was seeded No. 2 in the bracket. Once again, Dircks suffered a 7-0 loss to fall into the fifth-place match. Once again, the freshman rebounded to score the victory.
“Easton is tough,” White said. “He can win pretty much any match that he’s in. There was really only one person in that bracket when we looked at it, there was a pretty slim chance Easton was going to beat him. But that was for anybody in the state because nobody had beaten him. Other than that, Easton was in both of the matches that he lost. That’s just what happens when you get down there. Everybody is good. It’s about minimizing mistakes and when you make a mistake or don’t capitalize on another person’s mistake that’s usually what loses the match.”
Dircks’ goal was to improve on his fourth-place finish as an eighth-grader. While he didn’t do that, finishing with a win was a good consolation prize. “Last year, I went into the fourth-place match and I had already lost to that kid earlier,” Dircks said. “I was just looking to do as best as I could and I was happy with where I was at.
“This year, I wasn’t quite as happy with where I was, but I finished off the season with a win so that was nice.”
Dircks last beat Willmar’s Anez in the Section 8-3A individual finals by a score of 3-2. Prior to that, he eliminated Little Falls’ Joey Wilczek with a 3-1 win to advance to the finals.
During the Section 8-3A Team Tournament, Dircks recorded a 4:43 technical fall to help the No. 5 seeded Warriors upset No. 4 Moorhead and advance to the semifinals. Against top-seeded Bemidji, Dircks recorded a pin.
“Easton puts a lot of time in,” White said. “The amount of hours he puts in, not only with us, but then additional practices throughout the week. He goes in on Sundays and works out. He lifts on his own time. All that little extra stuff has really paid off.
“He’s also been doing that for a while. It’s not something that he just started doing this year. He’s been putting in all that extra time for a long time. He wrestles outside of season. He wrestles well into the summer and throughout the spring with freestyle and Greco-Roman. That goes all the way into the summertime. He just has hours and hours of time on the mat.”
That hard work is why Dircks was able to jump up from the 113-pound weight class into the 132-pound class. He said last year was seeing a lot more freshmen, sophomores and even fellow eighth graders. This year, however, he was running into juniors and seniors.
“Coming into the season my goal was to do better than last year,” Dircks said. “I didn’t accomplish that, but moving up from 113 to 132 was kind of a big jump. I was just focusing on getting stronger and working on technique and not worrying as much about my weight and focusing on strength.
“My strength got a lot better and technique-wise I really picked it up. I was working on a lot more stuff and I feel like I improved quite a bit.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Position: 132 pounds
Career highlight: Winning a wrestleback match to earn a spot in the third-place match of last year’s state tournament.
Favorite class: Math
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite movie: “Lion King”
Favorite musician: Zach Bryan
Favorite restaurant: Green Lantern Bar and Grill
Future plans: Attend college and wrestle
Favorite athlete: Spencer Lee, American freestyle and folkstyle wrestler
Parents: Matt and Amy Dircks
Other notable performances
Mason Kuepers, boys’ swimming and diving, finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle at the state finals.
Cadence Atwater, adapted floor hockey, finished with five goals and two assists against Rochester.
Andrew Kargel, adapted floor hockey, finished with 11 saves in a shutout of Rochester.
Johnny Pecarich, boys’ basketball, finished with 28 points against St. Cloud Tech.
Nick Evanson, boys’ basketball, finished with 24 points against St. Cloud Tech.