As a 103-pound eighth-grader, Nathan Janson may not strike fear in opposing wrestlers at first glance.
But the Pierz Pioneers wrestler has quickly made a name for himself in the wrestling community.
Janson is 29-1 this season for Class 1A's 10th-ranked Pioneers. Of his 29 victories, 21 have been pins.
"He's really exciting to watch," said Pierz coach Mark Jensen. "He kind of gets the team going.
"He's an exciting wrestler. His wrestling is real aggressive. He goes after the pin. He's good on his feet, puts them on their back and holds them there. He generates a lot of movement."
Janson picked up four pins last week as he went 5-0, including a victory over a ranked wrestler.
At the Milaca triangular Jan. 22, Janson pinned Nate Preselton of Sauk Rapids in 1:50 and pinned Milaca's Chuck LaMee in 1:41.
At the Pierz quadrangular Jan. 25, the freshman pinned Lakeville's Jake Simon in 36 seconds, Braham's Dennis Gregerson in 2:42 and decisoned David Cunningham of Meadow Creek Academy 8-6.
"The 103-pound class is generally younger kids," said Jensen. "The kid from Meadow Creek Academy is a ranked wrestler and (Janson) ended up getting a decision on him. That boy was a 10th-grader."
Janson isn't the first eighth-grader to wrestler for the Pierz varsity, but thanks to a great youth program, Janson might be the most experienced.
"The young kids that we have on varsity really put their time in at the elementary school," said Jensen. "Those are usually the ones that make the varsity early.
"(Nathan's) parents are real supportive of him. They've taken him to freestyle tournaments and all over. It's not like he's a young inexperienced wrestler. He's had a lot of experience."
Janson is ranked fifth in 1A at his weight class. His coach believes Janson will help a veteran team to a possible state berth.
"He's a real good fit to this team," said Jensen. "We are really strong in the lower weights. It's because of our elementary program. We have a lot of quality wrestlers that aren't even on the varsity. He's obviously risen above everyone else and that's why he's here. He won the position and we expect him to do well.
"We feel that he has a real good shot to make it to the state tournament. That's because of his experience at a younger age, because he's wrestled a lot through the elementary program and the freestyle program. He's really had a lot of a experience. He's more of a seasoned veteran."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Pillager's Lee Roberts scored 59 points in three victories last week. Teammate Adam Brown scored 32 in a victory over Pequot Lakes and 22 in a win over Northland.
Aitkin's Thomas Just scored 20 points in a victory over Crosby-Ironton and 14 in a win over Ogilvie.
Crosby-Ironton's Ben Baratto had 23 points in a loss to Aitkin. Baratto added 23 points in a victory over Eveleth-Gilbert.
Pine River-Backus' Nick Keefe scored 26 points in a loss to Greenway.
Renzo Ferrari of Little Falls scored 21 points in a victory over Willmar. He added 22 points in a win over Fergus Falls.
Wadena-Deer Creek's Brett Hieb scored 21 points in a loss to Crookston.
Hockey -- Crosby-Ironton/Aitkin's Josh Riskus scored two goals in a victory over Moose Lake/Willow River.
Wrestling -- Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale's Jared Oyster recorded two pins at the B-H/V triangular. Oyster also decisoned Scott Schormanek of New York Mills.
Aitkin's Kyle Bender and Jordan Keil both won three matches last week. Bender had two pins while Keil had two technical falls and a pin.
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