Brainerd Warriors coach Bob Brakke wrestled Aitkin coach Dan Stifter while the two were in college at Moorhead State and Minnesota-Morris, respectively.
So it seems natural the two would continue their competition when their teams met for their annual dual meet at Washington Middle School.
"I'm not going to start a rivalry by saying who won," Brakke said of the coaches' one encounter in college.
It may be a little too late to avert a rivalry since the teams have been competing for quite some time. The Warriors beat the Gobblers for the first time in six years Tuesday, 40-15. The last time Brainerd won was Jan. 9, 1996, when it squeaked out a 35-34 victory.
"We wanted to do this," senior captain Vince Sellnow said. "We haven't beaten them in a while. This is a good win for us."
Aitkin opened the meet with a win by Darik Lamke at 189 pounds, but it was a moral victory for Brainerd as Dylan Eschenbacher fell 11-6. He averted a major decision by scoring the last three points of the match on an escape and takedown. Lamke was a Class 2A state tournament participant last season.
"The first match was a big one for us, Dylan Eschenbacher fighting to keep from being majored was a great effort," Brakke said. "Lamke has a lot of experience and it could have been six points. Dylan did a great job of battling and not giving up points for the team."
That set up the Warriors, who rolled through the next four matches to build an 18-3 lead. Heavyweight Allen Stephenson ended what looked to be a close match early with a pin against Mikael Arvidson in 3:14. It was Stephenson's first varsity match of the season.
Sellnow continued to push Brainerd's lead with a 17-0 technical fall against Korey Tibbetts at 103. Sellnow, ranked No. 4 in 3A, improved to 16-1 with the victory. He said the state ranking does not make a difference when he steps out on the mat.
"It doesn't bother me, but other people look at it," Sellnow said. "I think some people look at it as motivation to beat me, but some people get scared of it too."
Dan Fleischhacker held off Aitkin's Brian Wasserzieher at 112 for a 7-4 victory and Konrad Abramo picked up an 8-0 major decision at 119 against the Gobblers' Dan Appel.
Aitkin managed to make it closer when Jordan Keil scored a 9-3 decision against Tom Zelinske at 125 and Matt Finlayson pinned Eric Mayoral at 130 with a cross-face cradle. Keil was a state participant last season.
But the Warriors answered when Brainerd's Ron Gardner pinned Johnathan Arness with a cradle of his own at 135 to push the lead to 24-12. The Gobblers were then forced to forfeit at 140 to put the Warriors up even more.
The meet-winner came at 145 when Dusty Pickar squeaked out a 3-2 victory against Adam Landgren to eliminate any chance of an Aitkin comeback. Andy Pickar had an easier go of it, putting on a takedown clinic to defeat Mike Wagner 20-7 at 152. Andy Pickar is ranked second in 3A at 145.
Kyle Bender picked up the Gobblers' final victory at 160 with an 11-4 decision against Matt Hyland. Chad Weiss wrapped up the meet for the Warriors when he outlasted Josh Setzer for a 7-5 win at 171.
The Warriors had a full lineup and did not have to give up forfeits like they did against Little Falls in their last home meet.
"Our big key was filling the lineup first of all," Brakke said. "We've had some kids not making weight."
Brainerd 40, Aitkin 15
189 -- Darik Lamke (A) dec. Dylan Eschenbacher 11-6.
Hwt -- Allen Stephenson (B) pinned Mikael Arvidson 3:14.
103 -- Vince Sellnow (B) tech. fall Korey Tibbetts 17-0. 5:16.
112 -- Dan Fleischhacker (B) dec. Brian Wasserzieher 7-4.
119 -- Konrad Abramo (B) major dec. Dan Appel 8-0.
125 -- Jordan Keil (A) dec. Tom Zelinske 9-3.
130 -- Matt Finlayson (A) pinned Eric Mayoral 1:07.
135 -- Ron Gardner (B) pinned Johnathan Arness 1:33.
140 -- Jake Smith (B) won by forfeit.
145 -- Dusty Pickar (B) dec. Adam Landgren 3-2.
152 -- Andy Pickar (B) major dec. Mike Wagner 20-7.
160 -- Kyle Bender (A) dec. Matt Hyland 11-4.
171 -- Chad Weiss (B) dec. Josh Setzer 7-5.
Conference -- B 2-2. Overall -- B 5-3. Next meet -- Brainerd in Kiffmeyer Invitational at St. Cloud Tech Saturday.
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