FARGO, N.D. — Seeing the best wrestlers in the nation is nothing new for the Elyria tandem of Josh Breeding (132) and Mick Burnett (120). In fact, it’s what pushes the pair of Pioneers to be the best they can be.
Both are making their fourth trip to the Fargo Nationals — in much different ways.
Breeding will compete at the Junior Freestyle level. The Elyria senior and Princeton commit is hoping to become an All-American for the first time.
“That’s really driven me,” Breeding said. “I’m going to put it all on the mat and hopefully All-American. It would be one of my greatest accomplishments. Fargo is one of the toughest tournaments ever. I’d be very happy to achieve my goals.
“It’s definitely up there with a state championship because the caliber of kids is tougher. You can’t get too high over a win or too low over a loss until you get there.”
Breeding isn’t going alone.
Lorain County has 15 wrestlers competing, and Breeding will have five of his high school teammates alongside him.
While the past three trips haven’t yielded a top-eight finish, familiarity with the 23-mat tournament could go a long way.
The goal is to start the tournament Sunday and be wrestling in the All-American rounds Tuesday.
“It really helps going down there all those times,” Breeding said. “It doesn’t feel as big as it was when I was first wrestling. It’s gotten to be something that isn’t new to me. I can just go out there and wrestle. Seeing all these kids here, there’s a lot of kids I go to school with, a lot of kids I train with. I wish the best for them, too.”
As the son of a coach, Burnett is definitely a mathead. A state placer along with Breeding in the high school season, the sophomore has been a regular at Fargo with his father, Erik, the longtime Pioneers coach.
While it’s the first time Burnett will see live action on the floors of the FargoDome, he’s been mat side plenty of times with his father sitting in the chair. That should help today when he starts competition in Cadet Freestyle.
“It’s going to be different,” Burnett said. “It’s like the state tournament. I’ve gone so many times to watch. This year, it’s going to be a fun experience.
“It helps a lot just coming down and getting used to the atmosphere. For a lot of guys, it’s intimidating their first time being here, but that’s not the case for me. I know it’s a big, fast tournament.”
A schoolboy champion last summer, Burnett is ready to get things going and wants to be standing at or near the top when his division ends Monday.
“Any big tournament you compete in will help tune you up,” Burnett said. “This is probably the biggest tournament I’ve wrestled in. It’s awesome being around your teammates. You’re not as nervous. It’s fun. It’s a learning experience.
“I try not to think about how big the tournament is and stay focused on that next match. I think I have a good shot of winning it this year. It would mean a lot as a first-year Cadet to go down and win it. Even to All-American would be nice.”
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
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