Matt Braun is really, really looking forward to Friday.
Not that St. Cloud Apollo’s wrestling match tonight at Holdingford doesn’t interest him. That’s fun. So will be the the 20th Annual Jim Kiffmeyer Duals at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Cloud Tech.
“It’s fun going against some of the best teams in the state,” Braun said.
But on Friday, The Guillotine comes out with its state-wide team and individual rankings. It is then, Braun hopes, that his name will appear in the Class 3A rankings at The Guillotine’s website for the first time.
“It’s about time,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for something so long.
“The rankings come out Friday and I’m hoping I’m in it.”
Braun, a senior 126-pounder, is wrestling well.
Since the last ratings came out Dec. 28, Braun has beaten Albert Lea’s Trevor Westerland (No. 4 at 120), Faribault’s Brandon Peters (No. 7 at 126) and Reid Lyden (No. 9 at 120).
It’s the kind of string that gets you noticed in state rankings. Apollo head coach Tim Bengtson said Braun deserves it.
“He’s really on a roll right now,” Bengtson said. “He does everything we ask of him.
“He works hard and has been one of our leaders. He works in our youth program and led our captains’ practices in the fall. He really puts in the time to be the best he can be.”
His best has been to be one of the consistent scorers for an Apollo team in which the spotlight oftens focuses on Mitch Bengtson and Grant Nehring. Like Braun, both are outstanding seniors. Unlike Braun, they have state championships to their credit (three for Bengtson, one for Nehring).
He goes into today’s dual at Holdingford with an 18-8 record.
“The past couple of weeks have been really good,” Braun said. “Nobody (saw) that coming.”
Braun said he became hooked on wrestling in ninth grade, though Bengtson said he knew about Braun since elementary school.
“I’ve known him since first grade at Madison (Elementary School),” he said.
Bengtson coached Braun in soccer in first grade. The wrestling came later. When he had some success as a freshman, his focus changed.
“I’ve been passionate about wrestling my whole life,” Braun said. “But when I got my first varsity win in ninth grade, I quit all my other sports and dedicated myself to it.
“When I was little, I played every sport I could get my hands on (including soccer, football and baseball). But wrestling was the one that did it for me.”
His goals are to get Apollo as far as possible in the Central Lakes Conference and Section 8-3A. The Eagles will be darkhorses in their section after back-to-back state tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010. And, of course, Braun also would like to qualify for the state meet.
Then, it’s off to college. Braun is planning to attend St. Cloud State and is looking at the medical field, possibly nursing, as a major.
He’d also like to continue to help out Apollo’s program as a coach.
“I want his (Bengtson’s) job some day,” he quipped.
For now, though, there are rankings to watch.
* Kevin Kiffmeyer, the son of Jim Kiffmeyer and the tournament’s public address announcer, will sing the national anthem at 10:20 a.m. Kiffmeyer is a choir director at Tech.
* While the first round pairings haven’t been announced, likely first-round pairings will have Albert Lea (No. 4 in Class 3A) vs. Apollo, Cambridge-Isanti (No. 3 in 3A) vs. Tech, Sauk Rapids vs. St. Michael-Albertville (No. 2 in 3A) and Foley (No. 3 in 2A) vs. Hastings (No. 8 in 3A).
* The final round is expected to start at about 4 p.m.
* There are 33 state-ranked wrestlers expected to participate. St. Michael-Albertville leads the way with 11, including three No. 1s, Mitch McKee at 106, Tommy Thorn at 120 and Mitchell Eull at 220.
Also ranked for the Knights are: Aaron Dick (4th at 113), Tanner Mills (3rd at 126), Mark Voss (2nd at 132), Cole Sladek (2nd at 138), Lincoln Mallinger (4th at 145), Jordan Joseph (2nd at 170), Ricky Briggs (3rd at 195) and Michael Kessler (2nd at 285).
* Cambridge-Isanti is next on the list with five state-ranked wrestlers, including: Travis Swanson (10th at 120), Travis Holt (3rd at 145), Ty Torgerson (3rd at 152), Cody Skog (4th at 160) and Dakota Johnson (10th at 195).
* Foley also has five state-ranked wrestlers in Class 2A: Tyler Funk (5th at 120), Tristan Manderfeld (4th at 126), Keith Thell (5th at 132), Carter Nielsen (9th at 138) and Mitch Keeler (10th at 285).
* Albert Lea has four wrestlers in the top 10: Garrett Wangsness (3rd at 113), Trevor Westerlund (4th at 120), Dakota Wangsness (5th at 126) and Tristan Westerland (2nd at 182).
* Apollo also has four ranked in 3A: Bengtson (No. 1 in 138), Nehring (1st at 145), Peter Nelson (7th at 106) and Bryce Kirchner (10th at 220).
* Hastings has three ranked: Luke Rowh (No. 1 at 132), Dan Marquette (9th at 160) and Andy Rachuy (8th at 182).
* Tech’s Jerrad Nieland is ranked third at 285. The senior is 17-4 this season.