As a three-time state entrant, including a runner-up finish at 135 pounds last season, the Brainerd Warriors wrestling team is expecting Andy Pickar to pick apart opponents this winter.
The junior got off to a flying start last weekend at the Blue Earth Invitational as he wrestled his way to the 152-pound title and was named the tournament's outstanding underclassman.
"I was going to shower up and (Warriors coach Bob) Brakke told me to hang around a little bit, that I might have a chance of winning that," Pickar said. "Usually, it goes to Blue Earth guys, so I was a little bit surprised."
Pickar's title was no surprise. He opened with a 10-3 decision against Brady James of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, pinned Brad Arkell of Madelia/Truman and decisioned Josh Malwitz of Blue Earth 8-1 for the title.
Andy Pickar profile
Sport -- Wrestling
Weight class -- 140 or 152
Year -- Junior
Age -- 16
Height -- 5-foot-9
Other sports -- Football, baseball
Grade-point average -- 3.2
Memorable sports achievement -- Runner-up at 135 pounds in Class 3A state tournament last season
Favorite subject -- Physical education
Favorite food -- Tacos
Favorite movie -- "Happy Gilmore"
Hobbies -- Hunting, fishing
Athlete he admires -- His brother and teammate, Dusty
Parents -- Rick and Linda Pickar
In Pickar's weight class, there were two pools with three wrestlers in each. Winners of each pool wrestled for the title.
"(James) was probably the best wrestler I faced in the tournament," Pickar said. "He turned me to my back, but I ended up winning.
"My second match was against the guy ranked last in my pool. It was a little bit easier. I just took him down, wrestled him a little bit and pinned him.
"I was beating (Malwitz) 3-1 through most of the match. I put him on his back with about five seconds left, and the (person who taps the referee to indicate the end of a period) was out there. They called it a pin, then they took it back and said it was after the buzzer went off. I just got back points instead of a pin."
Brakke said Pickar should have little problem wrestling heavier opponents before trimming down to 140 for the postseason.
"It was difficult for him, at first, at Blue Earth," Brakke said, "but I also think he's gotten a lot stronger. Once he gets used to it, he will be just fine, but the guys are definitely bigger than when he wrestled 135 last year.
"The competition he will have to face at that level is going to be fierce, but it's doable for him. He's gunning for the state title. He's been working hard. I know (the state championship) is his goal."
Pickar said it's "not that big of a deal" to sometimes wrestle three weight classes heavier than he did last season.
"Your weight is the same as them," he said. "It's still just wrestling. It's just a matter of how you do."
In his fifth varsity season, and with one more season of competition remaining after this one, Pickar has 76 career victories. He is on track to become the winningest wrestler in Warriors history. The school record is 111 victories by Jim Caughey.
"I'm not actually shooting for it," Pickar said of the record. "I would like to achieve it on the way but winning is the main thing."
Pickar would like to cap this season by helping the Warriors qualify for state as a team.
"The team, more than individuals, I would like to go to state," he said. "That would be the greatest thing. It would be a lot more fun than just individuals but I would like to win (the individual state title)."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Samantha Welle, girls' hockey, had a trick vs. River Lakes.
J.P. Platisha, boys' hockey, had a hat trick and assist vs. St. Paul Johnson.
Megan Arns, girls' basketball, had 16 points and 18 rebounds vs. Willmar.
Vince Sellnow, wrestling, won the 112-pound title at Blue Earth.
Molly Smith, gymnastics, won two events vs. Little Falls.
(Athlete of the week is honored by the Brainerd Sports Boosters Club).
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