very Brainerd Warrior’s goal is to win an individual championship in the Paul Bunyan
Invitational, which the Warriors have hosted annually for 46 years.
Bryton Mutz was a particularly motivated Warrior this season. Brainerd’s last title was in 2008 when his brother, Brandon Mutz, captured the 119-pound Bunyan championship.
“It means quite a bit, especially being the next one to win it after my brother,” said Bryton Mutz, who captured the 106-pound title in the Bunyan last weekend. “It’s kind of rewarding. It’s motivating. I have to keep it going, keep my winning streak going.”
The tournament also was rewarding for Mutz after he had lost his previous two matches before the Bunyan.
He finished second in the season-opening tournament at Blue Earth. In the finals, Mutz lost 9-6 to Dominic Alger of United South Central.
“My first two matches were really easy, I don’t think they lasted more than 50 seconds each,” he said. “The finals were definitely a little harder.
“It was my first tournament in over a year because I didn’t wrestle last year. It was a little difficult coming back.”
The night before the Bunyan he was pinned by Alexandria’s Ben Boggart with 26 seconds left.
“I don’t know what happened,” Mutz said. “He was a tough wrestler but someone I think I should have been able to beat. I was having an off-night or something.”
Mutz was on in the Bunyan. After receiving an opening-round bye, he pinned Moorhead’s Ethan Tallakson in the quarterfinals and decisioned Michael Ramirez of Burnsville in the semifinals. In the finals, Mutz took down Cole Jones of Grand Rapids with six seconds left for a 4-2 win.
“He’s had a good start to the season,” Warriors co-head coach Jim Kath said. “He’s worked real hard to be in our lineup. He’s a kid who has as much potential as any wrestler on the team. He’s an incredible athlete. He kind of does back flips in the room. He’s a talented young kid.
“He had a decent bracket (in the Bunyan) and had to wrestle well. It was not as tough as some brackets but there were some good wrestlers in there. He’s just got to continue to work to shore up a couple things from the bottom position, from his feet as well. He’s a tough kid. We have high hopes for him come section time, as long as he can stay healthy.”
Warriors co-head coach Mike Boran likes the fact Mutz gets better with each match he wrestles.
“He learns from matches when he doesn’t wrestle well,” Boran said. “Even in the (Bunyan) tournament he gave up some points he didn’t need to, but he came back, got the win and was better the next time he wrestled.”
Not many seniors wrestle at 106. Many move up several weight classes by the time they’re seniors.
“Being a senior at 106, that gives him somewhat of an advantage, as far as maturity,” Boran said. “Hopefully, he will be able to put it together at the end of the season.”
Mutz, who stands just 5-foot-4, said it’s not difficult for him to be a senior 106-pounder.
“I eat,” he said. “It’s not that hard to stay down there.”
He hopes to end his senior season with more medals.
“I want to take first in the rest of the tournaments, that’s my goal,” Mutz said. “I want to make it to state, that would be great, but I’ll just leave it at that. If I make it, good. If I place, better yet. We’ll see what happens.”
Other notable efforts:
■ Natalie Berens, girls hockey, stopped 28 of 29 shots against Alexandria.
■ Zean Baker, boys Nordic skiing, won boys races at the Grand Rapids and Apollo invites.
■ Heather Fletcher, girls basketball, collected 15 rebounds and 13 points against Little Falls.
■ Ian Haug, boys basketball, scored 25 points against Sartell.
■ Josh McKeag and Justin Kuglin, swimming, each won two events and were on two first-place relays against Alexandria.
Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.