Craig Luberts went to school Monday morning a changed young man.
That's because the Pierz Pioneers wrestler returned to school a state champion.
The sophomore gained only the Pioneers' third state title Feb. 28-March 2 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
On the first day of the tournament, the sophomore decisioned Matt Allerson of Nicollet 6-1 and beat Bryce Olson of Fertile-Beltrami 17-7.
In the semifinals, the state's top-ranked 135-pounder beat third-ranked Cole Altermatt of Wabasso 5-2.
Luberts won his championship with a 3-1 decision over Chatfield's Ryan Priebe.
"First, I wanted to score points and get ahead and then work from there," said Luberts. "The main thing was to get the first takedown.
"I was pretty wore out from wrestling in the individual and team tournaments, but once I got out there and got going, it didn't really phase me."
Luberts joins Chris Young and Aaron Kloss as the only Pierz wrestlers to win state titles. Only a sophomore, Luberts is hoping to become the school's first two-time state champion.
"I just have to keep working hard," said Luberts, "keep working and getting better on my feet. Everything can use a little improvement."
Luberts was also perfect in the team state tournament. He decisioned Brent Yule of Medford 7-3 in the first round and decisioned Chet Lexvold of Goodhue 9-2 in the consolation semifinals.
In the consolation final, Luberts beat Clay Olson of BOLD 8-3, but the Pioneers dropped the meet to finish sixth.
"It helped a lot of the younger guys to get the experience of what they'll have coming up next year," Luberts said. "We learned that we need to be in good shape to be able to handle all the matches down there and be mentally prepared."
Luberts finished the season 47-1. He has a career record of 113-10. This season, he had 21 pins, five major decisions and one technical fall.
"He's aggressive on his feet," said Pierz coach Mark Jensen. "He's gotten to the point where nobody really takes him down. All the matches he wrestled at the state tournament he only gave up one takedown. You really shut down the other kids if you can do that.
"We generally counted on him to get us a pin in dual meet competition. Between him, Nathan Janson and Dan Britz, we counted on those guys to mainly get us the big points."
Luberts was also a starting running back for the Pioneers' football team, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and helping Pierz to an 8-0 regular-season record.
"Last summer he really worked at hitting the weights and that improved his football and his wrestling strength," said Jensen. "That, added with his great work ethic, has gotten him where he is now, a state champion.
"He was second last year and that weighed pretty heavy on him. He worked awfully hard to make sure that didn't happen again.
"He's a great kid. He has a great future and hopefully it will treat him well."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Luke Schramm of Pequot Lakes scored 12 points against Menahga and 29 against Nevis.
Crosby-Ironton's Ben Baratto scored 26 points against Moose Lake-Willow River and 18 against Deer River.
Wadena-Deer Creek's Andrew Martinson scored 16 points against New York Mills and 27 against Perham.
Hockey -- Peter Herman of Little Falls scored two goals against Fergus Falls in the Section 4, Class 1A final.
Wrestling -- Pierz's Dan Britz finished second at the Class 1A state individual tournament. Teammate Nathan Janson finished fourth.
Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale's Joeb Oyster won the Class 1A 130-pound championship. Teammate Cullen Captain was fourth at 135.
W-DC's Logan and Leland Brincefield each finished second in the Class 2A state individual tournament. Teammate Peter Hayes finished fourth, David Uselman was fifth and Kyle Trout sixth.
Josh Bresnahan of Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus finished third in the Class 2A individual tournament. Teammate Shane Walton was sixth.
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