Get them to the middle.
That’s what the Brainerd Warriors did Thursday night.
The Warriors carried a 21-3 advantage into the heart of their lineup and pulled off a 45-22 Central Lakes Conference victory over the St. Cloud Tech Tigers at Brainerd High School.
Brainerd’s middle consists of 138-pound senior Dan Babineau, who pinned his opponent in 1:17.
Babineau, a state tournament veteran, scored an early takedown and finished off Tech’s Alex Van Heel with the pin.
“I didn’t know much about him,” Babineau said. “I’m not sure if he was in the lineup last year or not, but my plan was to just go out there and wrestle hard.”
Junior Dillon Solid scored a 13-0 major decision at 152. Senior captain Luke Boran pinned his 160-pound opponent in 2:13 and senior captain Jeff Flickinger scored a 17-5 major decision at 170 to seal the victory for the Warriors, who improve to 4-1 in the conference, 5-3 overall.
“It was real important for our lower-weight guys to get some wins because we were missing some guys up on top,” said Warrior co-head coach Mike Boran. “We needed to get some points down low. We knew we were going to be strong through the middle and our lower weights really came through tonight.
“We got some nice wins. A couple of kids, we weren’t sure where they would be, if they would win or not, and they came out on top. Then we got to our middle weights with Dan and Luke and Jeff and we started rolling there and built that lead big.”
The conference title is heavy on the minds of the three senior captains, who despite numerous years of varsity experience, have failed to capture the conference crown. The Warriors trail only unbeaten Sartell, whom they will wrestle Feb. 5.
“It’s definitely a big goal for us,” said Babineau of the conference title. “A lot of us have been wrestling with each other for a long time. We’ve had our sights set on conference for a couple of years now and we’ve just fallen short. We could definitely piece it together this year.”
The Warriors were without the services of Jace Engelmann, Levi Rubin, Casey Biever and Sam Adams. The absence of the four upper-weight veterans put even more pressure on the little guys to score points.
Bryton Mutz collected a 5-0 decision to start the match and Andy Schlosser earned a pin in 4:52 to hand Brainerd an early 9-3 edge.
Freshman Ivan Vazquez and sophomore Jake Zelinske each scored pins to give Brainerd that 21-3 lead before heading into the teeth of the Warrior lineup.
“This was an important win because this is a team we should beat, I think,” said Mike Boran. “But we went out and we wrestled well, too. That was important. We didn’t wrestle down in any of the matches and we need to keep doing that individually and as a team and hopefully as we get closer to Sartell, it’s going to be a good match.”
Junior heavyweight James Weiss capped off Brainerd’s victory with a 13-0 major.
“It’s our last year and as the season goes on, we’re starting to realize that more and more,” Babineau said. “The urgency just gets higher and higher now that we’re missing some guys. We just need to keep winning these matches and hopefully we’ll get them back in time for sections.”
Brainerd 45, St. Cloud Tech 22
106: Bryton Mutz (Brd) def. Austin Brenner 5-0
113: Andy Schlosser (Brd) pinned Tucker Brouwer 4:52
120: Henry Nistler (Tech) dec. Drew Bruen 5-4 OT
126: Ivan Vazquez (Brd) pinned Tyler Doering 3:08
132: Jake Zelinske (Brd) pinned Joe Klontz 1:44
138: Dan Babineau (Brd) pinned Alex Van Heel 1:17
145: Cole Schreder (Tech) Maj. Dec. Tommy Schlosser 10-0
152: Dillon Solid (Brd) Maj. Dec. Jeremy Nothom 13-0
160: Luke Boran (Brd) pinned Tyler Hugg 2:13
170: Jeff Flickinger (Brd) Maj. Dec. Patrick Niehaus 17-5
182: Joey Reed (Tech) dec. Cole DeRosier 6-4
195: Austin Klaverkamp (Tech) pinned Chris Laber 1:04
220: Noah Voigt (Tech) forfeit
285: James Weiss (Brd) Maj. Dec. Theo Wurst 13-0