Three straight wins gave Wayzata High junior Nick O’Brien the 126-pound title at the Richfield/Edina Invitational wrestling meet Jan. 12.
O’Brien pinned his first two opponents in less than a minute (49 and 32 seconds), but it was a tougher assignment in the finals against Matt Metcalf of Northfield, who had a 15-3 season record at the time.
When the title match ended, Metcalf was on his back with a 15-4 record. O’Brien, who improved to 18-5, scored his eighth pin of the season in the tournament semifinals.
“Metcalf is a good wrestler,” said O’Brien. “He got my ankle a couple times.”
The turning point in the match was an escape by O’Brien just five seconds into the third period. “When I’m on the bottom, I try to explode to my feet,” he said.
The score was 7-4 when O’Brien finally took Metcalf to his back in the third period. He added three back points for a 10-4 final score.
“I hung on as tight as I could,” said O’Brien.
The Wayzata wrestler is closing in on the 140 career-win mark, and off in the distance is another magic number, 200 wins.
O’Brien has qualified for state the past three years and hopes to go again with another goal in mind, the state title.
“I’m going to go for it,” he said. “I’m pushing myself every day in practice.”
O’Brien said he is fortunate to have an excellent practice partner, Jake Stufft.
“Jake is a great defensive wrestler, who makes you work for every point,” said O’Brien. “My style is to keep moving my feet and go into an all-out attack.”
Attack mode requires great conditioning and a thorough repetoire, O’Brien noted.
Wayzata High coach Tim Hartung has had the greatest influence on O’Brien’s career.
“He gives me solid stuff that always works,” said O’Brien. One of his favorite techniques is the cross-wrist ride.
O’Brien played soccer on the Wayzata varsity as a freshman and again as a sophomore, but he gave it up this year in order to concentrate on wrestling. Since wrestling is a year-round sport, there are camps in the fall that are important to athletes seeking scholarships.
Wrestling in college is one of O’Brien’s goals. And if a college career leads to something on the national level, that would be great, he said.
O’Brien has a lot going for him besides wrestling. A member of the National Honor Society, he carries a 3.73 GPA.
At the tournament Jan. 12, O’Brien took time to visit with wrestlers from other teams following his championship match. He loves to talk about the sport with others who love wrestling as much as he does.
O’Brien was able to relax and watch Trojan senior Weston Droegemueller win the 138-pound title at Richfield. Droegemueller is another standout in the WHS lineup. He finished fourth at state last season with a 42-5 record. O’Brien also reached the 40-win plateau last season with a final record of 40-7.
Contact John Sherman at email@example.com