Wrestling: Warriors head to state with expectations of medals
Six Brainerd Warriors and a Little Falls Flyer are headed to the Class 3A State Individual Wrestling Tournament.
BRAINERD — The largest congregation of Brainerd Warriors is headed to St. Paul.
That, of course, is not counting Brainerd’s State wrestling Tournament title team of 1982 nor its state runner-up team of 1989, but when counting individuals the six Warriors going to this year’s Class 3A State Individual Tournament comprise the most going in one year.
They’ll open their wrestling action 9 a.m. Friday, March 3, at the Xcel Energy Center.
“The section meet was unbelievable," Brainerd head coach Mikkey White said. "It was by far one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had coaching. The energy our team had and the atmosphere — we had so many friends and family and teammates. Everyone was standing behind us as our guys were wrestling and cheering them on. Every time one of our guys came off the mat with a win everyone just went crazy. It was so much fun. It was so awesome.”
Four of the Warriors are first timers with 126-pounder Cade Ostrowski taking his 29-12 record up against Mikey Jelinek of Stillwater. Jelinek is a sophomore with a 30-17 record.
We’ve got plenty of guys who are going down there with the expectation of winning a medal.
“For everybody, we want to go down and win,” White said. “We’re not just happy to be there. We want to go down there and compete. When you get a second-place finish in the section, sometimes that gets you a little tougher first-round match, but Cade is a battler. We’re hoping to get that first-round win and if not get as far as we can in the wrestlebacks.”
Senior Isaiah Germann will make his state debut against Stillwater’s Lindson Turner. Germann owns a 29-6 record compared to Turner’s 31-14 record. Germann is ranked fifth in The Guillotine Poll. Turner, a sophomore, is unranked.
“When Isaiah won, it was one of the best feelings of the whole tournament,” White said. “With him winning that true second match, the way he won it and just everything that led up to it. Last year, he didn’t get a chance to wrestle his true second match because he got hurt in his semifinal match and had to injury default. That was heartbreaking for him.
“For him to win that match and we got to finally see some really good raw emotion from him after he won. That was fun.”
Shane Carlson will start his first state tournament against Shawn Henderson of Cambridge-Isanti. Carlson won the Section 8-3A 182-pound title to improve his season record to 39-6. The sophomore is ranked fifth in the final poll. Henderson is not ranked. The freshman owns a 14-28 record.
“I feel bad, and I told Shane this, too,” White said. “So Shane kind of shut down the last 15 seconds of his championship match and gave up some points there and right after he won, I was kind of complaining to my assistant coach about the way he won there at the end and then all of a sudden I look and Shane is running at me because he just won and he’s excited and he jumps into my arms. I was like, “Oh yeah. I forgot. You just won the section title.’ That’s a big deal.
“I talked about the expectations we had for him. We expected him to go in there and win that. We were still super excited for him. Shane is in a good spot mentally and physically and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do as a No. 4 seed down in St. Paul.”
And finally the poster boy for every Brainerd student-athlete walking the halls not doing anything for a winter sport -- Eli Wiskow.
After two years away from the sport, the senior will face Burnsville’s Mambu Sonie in the opening round of the 220-pound bracket. Wiskow owns a 24-7 record. Sonie has a 32-4 record and is ranked No. 8.
“We hope that a lot of those football players and other kids who walk around the school who we ask ‘why don’t you wrestle?’ see this,” White said. “Eli Wiskow is a kid we can use as a reference for them. Look at Eli. He’s an athletic kid. Yes, he’s got some wrestling background, but at that 220-pound weight class, if you’re a big, athletic kid with some go in you, you can surprise some people. Wiskow has done that.
“He’s also got a lot better throughout the year. He’s worked hard at it. He deserves it just as much as anybody.”
Easton Dricks will begin his second state tournament against Lakeville North’s Hunter Flen. Dircks, a freshman with a 40-3 record, finished fourth last year. Dircks is ranked sixth in the poll for 132-pounders. Flen is an unranked senior with a 35-14 record.
“He’s been one of the top guys for pretty much his entire wrestling career,” White said. “He’s used to people paying attention to him and knowing who he is. The state tournament is no different. He’s on the top of the bracket so he’s got the No. 1 seed (St. Michael-Albertville’s Landon Robedeau) in the semifinals if he can get there. It’s a tough mountain to climb, but it’s one that Easton is ready for. He’s excited for that matchup. If he can get there, of course.”
Senior Isaiah Jillson had one goal this year and it wasn’t just to make it to state. The 145-pounder wants to win it. His road to a state title begins against Eden Prairie’s Terae Dunn. Jillson is 43-2 and ranked No. 2 in the state polls, but Dunn is ranked No. 4 and owns a 32-4 record.
“I hope everybody has Isaiah’s mindset,” White said. “Jillson is going to go in there and he’s going to continue doing what he’s been doing all year. He even picked up on some things during the section tournament. He wins the tournament, but he also was looking at his performance and he knows he can do better than that. He’s going to work on some things to improve even more. He’ll go in there and do the best that he can.”
Little Falls’ Hank LeClair rounds out the area Class 3A wrestlers. The Section 8-3A champion at 195 pounds opens against Eden Prairie’s Julian Berg. LeClair, a junior, is ranked sixth and owns a 39-2 record. Berg, also a junior is unranked with a 22-15 record.
“It’s fun to go down to that tournament with guys owning the expectations of getting to those medal rounds,” White said. “We’ve got guys who want to do stuff and be successful down there. They’re not just happy to be there. We’ve got plenty of guys who are going down there with the expectation of winning a medal. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a battle and they’re ready for it.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .
What: Class 3A State Individual Tournament
When: 9 a.m. Friday, March 3 and 9 a.m. Saturday, March 4
Who: Brainerd’s Cade Ostrowski, Easton Dircks, Isaiah Germann, Isaiah Jillson, Shane Carlson and Eli Wiskow and Little Falls’ Hank LeClair
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul