Clint Poster hopes his varsity career ends as it began.
The senior for the Pierz Pioneers opened his final high school season by winning his first three matches by pin at the Foley Quadrangular Dec. 4.
He's hoping to stay unbeaten like he did as an eighth-grader (37-0) on his way to the 103-pound state title. Another of Poster's goals is to end his career as the winningest wrestler in school history. He began the year with 181 victories. The school record is held by Craig Luberts (201).
During last year's state tournament, Poster finished third at 135 pounds. He lost to eventual state champion Curt Mass of Medford in the semifinals 7-1.
He opened the state tournament with a 13-2 victory over Kimball's Jordan Joseph, then downed Ethan Hildebrandt of St. James 5-2 to reach Maas.
After the Maas defeat, Poster eliminated Jackson County Central's Taylor Menke 9-4 and beat New York Mills' Jordan Novak 11-2 for third place.
"It was very important to end the season like I did," said Poster. "I got matched up with a tough kid in the semifinals, but I just told myself that I was in a good position. It wasn't where I wanted to be, but the best thing I could do was third so I went out and finished it off against a couple of tough kids.
"Even this year, that helps because when things don't go well I learned you still need to wrestle well to end the year right."
Poster finished last year 38-3. That followed seasons of 36-5 as a sophomore, 38-8 as a freshman and 37-0 as an eighth-grader.
"I think he was pretty happy with how things turned out at the end," said Pierz head coach Simon Waltman. "His motivation for this year is the same as any other year. His goals never change. He wants to be a state champion."
Waltman said Poster drilled and willed himself into a better wrestler on his feet by concentrating on his takedowns and improving his foot speed.
"Clint has always needed to improve on his feet and we've seen a huge improvement from him," said Waltman. "That's the biggest difference for him now as opposed to when he was younger. He is a much better wrestler now. He has spent a lot of time working on that and hopefully that will be the difference for him this year.
"He's always been very good on the mat, especially from the bottom position. We've seen a big improvement from the top position as well. He is a better wrestler than he was in seventh and eighth grade and a lot of that has to do with strength. He's grown a bunch and spent a lot of time in the offseason paying the price with lifting weights and working on things. All that adds up."
It hopefully adds up to a successful senior season, which started well for Class 1A's second-ranked 145-pounder. He pinned Rocori's Mitch Howe in 54 seconds. That was followed by a 52-second pin of Jon Dorf of Paynesville. Poster finished the Foley Quad with a 2:41 pin of Colten Vekued of Becker. Pierz went 2-1 in the tournament.
"It was a pretty exciting first match of the season," said Poster, who plans on wrestling next year at St. Cloud State University. "We've been in the practice room for the last two weeks so it was nice to wrestle someone other than a teammate. I just took him down and it ended up being a pin. I felt I could have ended it earlier.
"The second match, I knew Paynesville was going to be a good team so I was just going for the most points I could get to help pull off the win. The final match went into the second period and I was working on my takedowns, which I hope to do a lot this year, and then ended up in a standing cradle, which is a fun move to see."
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Kurtis Moody, Pequot Lakes, scored 26 points against Deer River.
Hockey: Kyler Decent, Northern Lakes, scored four goals against Detroit Lakes.
Wrestling: Dalton Stevens, Kevin Handt and Andrew Bast, went 2-0 with two pins last week.
Frank Wilczek, Little Falls, finished 4-0 with four pins at the Monticello Invite.
Chris Ortman and Brandon Sullivan, Pierz, each went 3-0 at the Foley Quad.
Hayden Zillmer, Crosby-Ironton, went 2-0 to win the Rush City tournament at 135 pounds.
Mitch Steffens, Wadena-Deer Creek, won an individual title at the Wadena-Deer Creek Invite.
Peter Harrison and Christian Harrison, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus, won individual titles at the Wadena-Deer Creek Invite.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.