Wrestling: Warriors looking for more state success

The Brainerd Warriors open the season at the Wadena-Deer Creek Tournament Saturday, Dec. 4.

Wrestling captains Gabe Wagner and Isaiah Jillson wrestle during practice Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, at Brainerd High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

There’s a state medalist in the Brainerd Warriors wrestling room.

And Gabe Wagner is looking for more. The senior finished third in last year’s Class 3A State tournament at 145 pounds after defeating Chaska/Chanhassen’s Pedro Velazquez 5-3 in the third-place match. Wagner finished last season with a 35-7 record to give him 76 career varsity victories.

One big difference Wagner and the Warriors hope is that he’s not the only Warrior to make it to this season’s state tourney.

“There’s never a point where we are going to settle and say he’s good enough right now,” Brainerd head coach Mikkey White said. “Just like every year, he’s going to work continually to get better. I would just say he’s starting at a higher level this year. Last year taking third was a huge confidence booster. That made him recognize that he’s as good as he is. Sometimes guys are good and they don’t realize it. That really helped him out as far as confidence is concerned.

“He’s stronger and a little bit bigger. He did have an injury that helped him back during the offseason. He’s looking good right now.”


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Last season saw a change in postseason formats because of COVID-19. Instead of a section tournament then a state tournament, the Minnesota High School League introduced a super section before state. Advancing to the super section were eighth-grader Easton Dircks, sophomore Cade Ostrowski, junior Isaiah Germann and junior Isaiah Jillson.

The 145-pound Jillson finished 30-8 last season and owns 88 varsity wins in his three-year varsity career.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have that over the years where we have a couple of guys in the lineup in a row,” White said. “The nice thing about it, especially in the middle there, if we have a dual where maybe we lose a couple of matches down low we can rely on that middle lineup to change the momentum and rely on them to come back and get a couple of wins. Usually, with Isaiah and Gabe, we can get a couple of big wins and change the tone of the dual.”

Dircks manned the 106-pound weight class last season and posted a 30-7 record in his rookie season.

“He puts in a lot of time all year round and it really pays off,” White said. “Anybody who can step in as a seventh-grader and do the things that he did last year it not only shows that he’s a talented kid, but he’s also seeing the fruits of all the hard work that he’s put in. He’s done the same this past season. He’s a little bit bigger and we fully expect him to accomplish the same things and hopefully more this year.”

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Wrestling behind Dircks will be Ostrowski who finished 27-12 last season.

“Cade is looking good, too,” White said. “He’s a little bit bigger and stronger. One thing about having these guys be returners and full-time starters last year, when you wrestle good people all of the time you’re just naturally going to get better. That’s why you see in lineups clumps of wrestlers that are good. It’s not uncommon to see because those guys are wrestling each other all day every day in the practice room and making each other better.

“Easton, Cade and the Germann boys are wrestling each other all the time and they’re all making each other better.”


The Germann brothers will handle the next two weight classes. Isaiah Germann went 19-18 last year at 120 pounds and Elijah Germann was 8-15 at 126.

“Isaiah is good,” White said. “We saw these flashes of real high-level intensity from him last year and when we saw that he was really good. If we can keep his confidence high and see more of that intensity out of him, he’s going to win a lot of matches this year.

“Elijah is a tough wrestler. He’s one of the toughest around. He had that elbow injury that kept him out of the lineup for a while. He’s full go now. His elbow is healed and he’s been wrestling a lot this summer and fall. And like his brother, when he shows those flashes of intensity he’s really tough.”

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Damien Bentho finished with a 13-22 record at 170 pounds as a sophomore. He’ll be back at that weight class again this season.

“What we’ve been working on with Damien is to be more offensive,” White said. “He’s one of the hardest guys to get out of position and that has been a benefit for him, but also a detriment because he has relied on it and has not been offensive.

“Our goal for him this year is to be more offensive and score more takedowns from his feet. If he can do that consistently he’ll be really good.”

Shane Carlson was the team’s biggest surprise last season. As an eighth-grader Carlson went 19-17 at 195 pounds, which is no easy feat.

“By far, the Shane Train surprised us,” White said. “We all knew that Shane was strong and a good wrestler, but you never know as an eighth-grade kid at 195 pounds who knows? Match after match he surprised us and we had so much fun watching Shane wrestle. We expect the same out of him this year.”


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Dalton Barrett missed most of last season, but is back and healthy. He owns nine career varsity wins.

“Since we’ve had Dalton he hasn’t been able to have a full season as he’s dealt with a couple of different injuries,” White said. “Dalton is looking good. He’s a monster. I think he’s 250 pounds and quite honestly it’s hard to find practice partners for him. The next biggest guy is 200 pounds. Those guys have to work their tails off to move big Dalton around.”

Filling out the varsity roster will likely be freshman Jaxon DeRosier at 106 pounds, sophomore Hunter Bergin at 138 pounds, senior David Rollins at 182 pounds and Carson Faehnrich at 220 pounds. The Warriors do not have a 160 pounder slotted into the varsity lineup.

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The Central Lakes Conference went to a triangular schedule for all conference matches leaving the Warriors with just one dual meet. That will happen Feb. 3 at Aitkin.

“It’s a good-bad,” White said. “It’s good in the sense that we get way more matches and so I think that the positive outweighs the negative of missing out on that atmosphere of being one team against another. You got the fans in the gym from those teams and everyone is there focused on that dual. There is something to be said about that atmosphere, but our guys are getting more matches and our team is getting more duals and we are getting more experience.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at


Mikkey White

Head coach: Mikkey White, sixth season (fourth year as head coach, co-head coach 2 years)

2019-20 record:11-2 CLC, 22-11 overall

Returning state wrestlers: Gabe Wagner

Assistant coaches: Jim Kath, Marty Wagner, Curtis Brisk

Warrior schedule

Saturday, Dec. 4: at Wadena-Deer Creek Invite 10:30 a.m.

Friday, Dec. 10: Paul Bunyan Invite 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 11: Paul Bunyan Invite 10:30 a.m.

Dec. 16: hosts Buffalo, Foley 5 p.m.

Dec. 21: at Sauk Rapids Triangular 5 p.m

Jan. 6: at Bemidji Triangular 5 p.m.

Jan. 8: at Cambridge-Isanti Invite 9 a.m.

Jan. 13: hosts Fergus Falls, St. Cloud Crush 5 p.m.

Jan. 14: at Bemidji Tournament 9 a.m.

Jan. 15: at Bemidji Tournament 9 a.m.

Jan. 18: at Moorhead Triangular 5 p.m.

Jan. 21: at Browerville Triangular 5 p.m.

Jan. 27: at Sartell Triangular 5 p.m.

Jan. 28: at Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Invite 4 p.m.

Feb. 3: at Aitkin 6 p.m.

Feb. 4: at Little Falls Triangular 5 p.m.

Feb. 10: at Mounds View Triangular 5 p.m.

Feb. 11: at Mound Westonka Invite 4 p.m.

Warrior roster

Seniors: Gabe Wagner (152 pounds), David Rollins (182), Dalton Barrett (285)

Juniors: Isaiah Germann (126), Isaiah Jillson (145), Damien Bentho (170), Forrest Wentz (285)

Sophomores: Cade Ostrowski (120), Elijah Germann (132), Hunter Bergin (138), Nathan Lawrence (132), Titus Thompson (220)

Freshmen: Jaxon DeRosier (106), Shane Carlson (195), Carson Faehnrich (220), Hayden Decent (132), Izaak Ostrowski (152), Ethan Kosloski (195)

Eighth graders: Easton Dircks (113), Cale Ostrowski (113), Lukas Lind (126), Beau Coonfield (145), Brayden Langseth (152)

Mikkey White

Mikkey White

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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